Last year at this time, our partners that operate summer day camps in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia were unsure how, or even if, they were going to be able hold their programs for low-income children in distressed, rural Appalachia.
And although they were not able to host their camps as they had traditionally done for years at their centers, they were determined not to let these children down and disappoint them from attending what is the highlight of their summer.
For example, in McDowell County, West Virginia, and Beattyville, Kentucky, our partners there, Big Creek People in Action and Cumberland Mountain Outreach, respectively, decided that if the kids couldn’t come to the camp, they would bring the camp to the kids.
BCPIA, using grant funding made possible thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, was able to purchase what they called “Summer Fun Boxes” which included athletic equipment to keep them active outdoors, and water pistols and sprinklers to keep them cool on the hot, humid days of summer, along with plenty of healthy snacks and treats and deliver them to more than 50 children throughout the rural county.
CMO, in the small town and surrounding community it serves, provided children in neighborhoods with items to allow them to attend “summer camp” in their own their own yards along with a few of their next-door friends.
This year, we are pleased to report that both BCPIA and CMO have told us that they will be able to resume their camps this year.
BCPIA co-executive director Dyanne Spriggs has big plans to rent six cabins at nearby Berwind Lake for more than 30 campers, as well as holding activities and programs at their center and taking them on exciting field trips in June.
CMO President and CEO Cindy Evanoff says at present its summer camp is limited to 15 campers at one time, but she is hopeful that by the time the camp starts this summer the restriction will be lifted.
In addition to enjoying fun activities such as spending the day at a local swimming pool, Cindy is planning on taking the campers to the nearby Natural Bridge State Park.
Among those who literally can’t wait to attend summer camp again this year is little Amelia who had attended BCPIA’s literacy camp in previous years, until last year.
Not yet in first grade, Amelia was eager to learn and made sure her mom brought her to camp bright and early so that she would be the first to arrive…and then late in the afternoon, the last to leave.
Without these camps, which help enable our partners like BCPIA and CMO be able to offer them every year, boys and girls just like Amelia, would spend most, if not all, of their summer “vacation” isolated and alone, and likely going hungry without the meals they receive when school is in session.