Summer Camp is Good for ALL Kids

Guest post by Jesse Tall at Eckerd’s Short Term Residential Program for Boys in Boomer, NC

Camp Willow Run

The day began with some rain. The kids had already found out yesterday that even with the rain, the show will go on.  The previous day Joseph had scaled the climbing wall marking himself as the first kid to successfully complete the hard climb this summer. The kids have been having a lot of fun and taking advantage of all the opportunities offered at Camp Willow Run.

Camp Willow Run is a Christian summer camp that has allowed North Carolina Youth Development Center’s probational youth to attend the first week of camp for over 40 years.  This is all done through private donations that cover the entire week experience.  Our young men in the North Carolina Short Term Residential programs were given the opportunity this year and will be invited back hopefully for years to come.

Each day begins with the flag rising and a pledge of allegiance to the American and Christian flag. The students then go into breakfast and get to have their choice of the morning spread, and in most cases receive seconds from the servers.  When mouths are fed the students get to enjoy an hour of music, singing, and listening to the minister as he teaches a lesson from the Bible.  Free swim is next followed by field games.  Everyone is excited for tomorrow because they are expecting to ride the red shark, which is an inner tube they can sit on pulled by a speedboat through the lake.

Camp Willow Run

The agenda is full for the day; canoeing and then the high ropes course.  The kids had a great time canoeing; they began to attempt flipping boats because the instructors stated it was something that was bound to happen. Our Eckerd kids from the Boomer and Candor campuses intermingled and were able to establish friendships as the week went on.

When the guys went to high ropes, everyone tried something.  We had one student that attempted to start the course, but got nervous when he began the climb.  He continued to support from below and helped take pictures of the other students.  When everyone successfully went through the course which was a series of wires in the air, they had to make a final jump and climb to the zip line which propelled all weary, spent bodies into the lake for a cool down.  The kids even cheered their counselor on, who took a crack at the course.  The common statement from everyone was, “this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we might as well go for it.”

At night after dinner the kids participate in one more sermon before going to the cabin, or boxcars as our guys like to call them.  They had a little more fun because lights out is later than what their used to, which is usually 10 o’clock. When I first heard of the camping in the boxcar I though they meant a mat on an unfinished room, but the cars were carpeted and run with electricity, a private shower and bathroom, and individual bunk beds.

Overall, fun was had by everyone.  Each kid was able to experience something that is good for ALL kids; having fun in nature, and hopefully it will have an enduring impact on their lives.