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Rescue Mission Farm hosts happy campers

July 29, 2004|by RYAN C. TUCK

ryant@herald-mail.com

Billy Gravley, 9, threw his arms up in exasperation Wednesday and complained to his friend Luis Campos, 9, as he looked longingly at the creek at Union Rescue Mission Farm west of Hagerstown.

Gravely and Campos were waiting for their chance to start swimming in the creek as part of the summer camp, Camp Conoco, and the other campers were slowing them down, they said.

Other than the boys' impatience with their "slow" friends, around 75 kids were enjoying the humid Wednesday at Conoco.

Nancy Shank, head of public relations for the camp, said Conoco is a free, three-week summer camp for "inner-city" kids ages 6 to 12.

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Children have been coming to Conoco for more than 30 years, she said.

Bobbi Burnett, 10, said she has been to a "ton" of other summer camps, but it was her first year at Conoco.

"I'd give it an 'A,'" she said.

Brandon Riedle, 8, said Conoco was perfect for his career plans.

"I love the songs we do because when I grow up, I'm going to be a Bible singer," he said.

For others, the zip-line swing, swimming in the creek and rides in the tractor were the "funnest" part.

Jennifer Harden, 10, and Kayla Grant, 11, liked sliding into the creek.

"It's cold, but I still like it," Jennifer said.

Camp veterans Kelly Carson, 12, and Felicia Rudisill, 12, who have gone to Conoco for more than five years, said every year is fun.

"It's the best camp I've ever been to," Felicia said.

Tony Rosario, 9, said Conoco balances fun and learning.

"We play games, we sing Bible verses," he explained. "It's a really cool place."

Tony said he would definitely recommend it to his friends.

For Andrew Winnington, 7, Wednesday's fun was a relief.

He came to Conoco three years ago but left after only a brief stay because he was homesick.

"I wanted to come back (this year) and see if it was better," he said. "It's like the funnest thing ... I'll be back next year."

Cousins Mitchell and Tayshawn Smith said making friends is the best reason to come to camp.

"There's a whole lot of kids to meet," Mitchell said.

This year's camp has a pirate theme and participants spent the week earning "nuggets and coins" they can trade for food, drinks and other prizes, camp counselor Kelli Hill said.

Daniel Williams, 11, who was at Conoco for the second time, said campers watched "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."

Daniel said that even Johnny Depp, star of "Pirates," would have had fun at the camp.

"I cut my foot and still came back," he said. "This is just fun."

Whether it was because of the slides, crafts or food, the kids interviewed at Conoco Wednesday said they were having fun.

Even Billy calmed down and admitted that camp was "just fun."

"Yeah, it was cool as heck," he said.

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