This June, nearly two dozen children ages 5 to 13 in McDowell County, West Virginia, had a summer camp experience of a lifetime thanks to our partner there, Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA), and the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®.
BCPIA co-executive directors Dyanne Spriggs and Marsha Timpson reported this month that for three wonderful weeks the kids gathered each weekday morning at its headquarters (a former high school) where they made crafts including making “volcanos,” constructing and painting bird houses, making and decorating kites, tie-dying T-shirts and socks, and more.
But the highlight of the camp experience – and one they no doubt will never forget – was a two-night overnight trip to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains.
“We purchased each child two new outfits, shoes and a pair of pajamas for the trip,” reported Dyanne and Marsha.
The kids were able to enjoy doing so many new things including the Dolly Parton Stampede in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, billed as “The Smokies Most Fun Place to Eat!”
During the dinner show, servers bring out each entrée separately and one little girl named Kasey thought the waiter was going to take her plate with a huge piece of chicken still on it “and she grabbed it up and started gobbling it down,” they told us.
The server “was very nice” and assured Kasey that he would not take her plate until she was completely finished.
“For such a little girl, she ate every bite of that chicken and most everything else.”
In nearby Gatlinburg, they visited Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies where they watched a large variety of colorful tropical fish, sharks and octopuses swimming in huge tanks, and even had the chance to touch a stingray!
“The aquarium was extremely busy, but all the kids stayed together.”
And that was all in addition to playing miniature golf and laser tag, riding go-carts, and seeing some real-life bears.
“The kids experienced many things they had never done before…which they loved,” they said. “Even the 5-year-olds had a go-kart they could drive on their own.”
Dyanne and Marsha also noted that all of the kids were very well behaved on the trip.
“The older ones enjoyed helping out with the younger ones. The bigger kids also helped clean up the cabin rooms and went on milk runs up and down the steps at night when the smaller kids wanted it before bed.”
In addition, “the kids learned about being responsible by keeping up with their clothes and belongings in their cabin room.
“They learned to work as a team and supported each other.”
Once back home, Kasey’s mother commented to Dyanne and Marsha that “You all do more with these kids than any other organization I’ve dealt with.”
Jayce, who lives in a foster home and has dealt with a lot during his short life, was feeling sad at one point in the trip one of the other little boys gave him a big hug and told him “We are all family here, buddy, and we all love you.”
And, as for little Amya, “This has been the best time of my life!”
To the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, Dyanne and Marsha want them to know:
“There is no way we would be able to take that many kids on a trip and pay for meals for three weeks, and all of the other recreational activities they got to participate in without your support.”