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Camp offers kids a chance to go into the country

June 15, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

For years, Sharon Wilson and her husband, Bob, had been hoping and praying that someone would start a camp for youngsters who couldn't otherwise afford to go to camp.

The Wilsons eventually took the initiative and started Camp Challenge, which they are directing for the second year.

"Last summer was the first year for Camp Challenge," said Sharon Wilson. "We had 29 kids and about 26 volunteers from at least five different churches."

That experience encouraged the Wilsons to put forth the hard work and dedication necessary to offer the camp again.

This summer, 57 children between the ages of 8 and 11 are going to attend the sleepover camp from June 29 to July 3 at Skycroft, a camp with sleeping lodges about a mile from Washington Monument Park on South Mountain.

The Wilsons said they hope to get volunteers and more donations of money, supplies and crafts materials to help make the camp a success.

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"The cost per camper is about $200 a child for the five-day outing," said Sharon Wilson, who noted the camp site rental is approximately $10,000.

While no money is required from the campers to attend the camp, Sharon Wilson said each camper is asked to contribute what can be afforded.

Carolyn Brooks, administrator of Hagerstown's HotSpot project, said she heartily supports the camp.

"It gets kids out of the neighborhood for a week," Brooks said.

The camp is a nondenominational, nonprofit, incorporated Christian undertaking designed to give "city kids" a chance to experience life in the great outdoors.

The Wilsons, who are members of the Bethel Assembly of God in Hagerstown, said the people who have worked to make the camp a reality are coming together for a common good.

"There are different groups quietly working in the community to help children who need this camp the most," said Sharon Wilson.

Each day will begin with breakfast followed by outdoor chapel, field day activities, time in the camp pool, crafts and dinner followed by choir practice and chapel.

There will be first-aid classes, wood lore, Biblical truths and other activities during the camp.

"At the end, the kids will get certificates for achievements and a notebook with photographs so they will remember the experience," said Sharon Wilson.

The Wilsons and their volunteers in August will "test drive" a retreat/camp for older youth. About 10 boys and girls, ages 12 and 13, will be involved in the project.

The project will include a canoe trip, and the retreat will be headed up by Camp Challenge board members Pedro and Isabel Guadalupe and lots of volunteers.

For more information on either camp or to send contributions, call 301-432-2855.

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