September 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Feature Stories

CanoeSummer camp for most children, is an annual occurrence, but for underprivileged children in Appalachia, the chance to experience this social activity is rarely possible. Because of CAP’s Camp Andrew Jackson (or AJ), located in McKee, Kentucky which has been in operation for over 40 years, even the most underprivileged children (ages 8-15) can attend a resident summer camp for one week each summer.

Camp signCamp AJ hosted five one-week sessions this summer. Campers arrived on Monday and departed on Friday afternoon.  This summer, camp served 398 kids with an average 78 kids per week. The weeks are split into age groups and sometimes gender, but are usually co-ed. Liz Phelps, Camp Manager (for six summers, and who has been with CAP for 24 years,) says that the return rate for these kids is well over 50 percent.

Activities at camp include canoeing, swimming, hiking, basketball, camping, arts and crafts, a talent show, and daily devotion. Meals are served three times a day to the entire camp at once. The meal is in “family style”, meaning each person learns to pass the food and socialize at the table. The Camp ensures that each meal is well rounded in nutritional value. Every Friday the group has an award ceremony where each child is presented with some kind of award.

Camp counselors were made up of some paid staff but most of them served as CAP volunteers and some of them served multiple summers in a row. For first time summer volunteer, Julianna Rado, her most memorable moment was Girls Week and all the nice things they had to say about each other at an emotional group gathering. Volunteer counselor Chris Jacob, who was in his second summer, said that he enjoys watching the kids have the opportunity to have fun. Most of the children who participate do not have other social outlets outside of school.

Other camp staff, such as the Camp Cook has been preparing meals for Camp AJ for some 23 summers. When she is not working at Camp AJ, she works as a Cook in the local school system.  Another volunteer, Jack Denmark from Georgia, has been serving as the Camp Nurse for five summers in a row. Jack is 71 years old and his background includes medical missionary work in central and South America, but was led to Martin County in 2001 as an Outreach Volunteer. He plans on volunteering at Camp AJ as long as he is able.

Camp Andrew Jackson will be undergoing a major renovation project over the next one and half years to include such things as replacing the roof and siding at the main camp structure, bathroom and kitchen renovation, and building a new counselor dorm to name a few. Camp AJ looks forward to another successful and fun-filled summer next year!



26 Responses to “Summer Camp for Appalachian Children”

  1. Gabrielle Lassetter on October 5th, 2009 4:34 pm

    I was too a counselor for this fantastic camp, and i have to say nothing was better than to love a bunch of kids for three or four weeks of my summer. The love and the companionship found here is something to behold and i promise you there is no where else you will find it, unless in the heart of another christian.

    I miss camp AJ too much to say, and i can’t wait for it to be up and running agian.

    thanks for the time,

  2. mike on November 22nd, 2009 9:31 am

    I would love to see more pictures of the camp. I donated to it.

  3. admin on November 23rd, 2009 1:20 am

    @ Mike

    Do you have a Facebook account? We have several albums of photos from Camp AJ posted here

    Home this helps

  4. mike on November 25th, 2009 10:48 am

    THANKS! Those kids looked like they were having a great time.

  5. MT on January 10th, 2010 11:21 am

    I sent a few packages of clothes to your organization and wanted to make sure that they were received. They were sent from Culver City, CA.

  6. josh on January 20th, 2010 2:32 pm

    im so sad because theres no camp this summer my sister is the sad

  7. Jude on February 6th, 2010 9:44 am

    re: Josh’s statement, why is there no camp this summer?

  8. lass on February 12th, 2010 1:14 am

    @ Jude and @ josh

    Because the camp needs to be fixed up some so it is safer for campers and so it is more efficent in doing its job :D

    it makes me sad too guys and I wish with all my heart it was open. All summer long I will be thinking of camp and all my campers and how they aren’t at camp. But absence makes the heart grow fonder so camp willl be twice as AWESOME because you will have missed it so much right? keep your chin up and remember the good times.

  9. Marie on February 23rd, 2010 3:24 am

    Our family had the opportunity to serve a few summers ago and were so blessed by the experience. I can still see the big smiles of many of the kids we served. Last summer as I led VBS at our church, Camp AJ continued to be in my heart and mind as we raised funds to support the camp. Now my oldest daughter Jennifer has applied for full time service at CAP. We praise the Lord for the great work you are doing to further His kingdom and we ourselves hope to return!!!

  10. Jennifer on July 13th, 2010 12:49 pm

    I went to Camp AJ twice when I was little. I had the best time ever. I became so attached to one of my counselors and it broke my heart when I had to leave. I wish I knew her name so I could look her up. This place is absolutely wonderful and I hope my kids get to go someday!!

  11. Erica on December 17th, 2010 6:02 pm

    I have been to camp AJ for 2 years and i loved it. i want to go again. is it going to be opened for 2011?

  12. admin on December 20th, 2010 2:56 am

    @ Erica,

    If all goes according to plan, Camp AJ will be open for camp in 2011!

    God bless,

  13. Megan on April 25th, 2011 4:29 pm

    i went to camp aj in 2009 and had a blast i hope that it will be open this year. i was heart broken when i found out that camp wasn’t gonna be open last year.

  14. Megan on April 25th, 2011 4:30 pm

    OH and i LOVE CAMP AJ

  15. admin on April 26th, 2011 8:01 am

    @ Megan,
    Camp AJ will be open for campers this summer! We are very excited to be back to our regular summer schedule and to have the Camp AJ facility remodeled after some time off. We hope all the campers speak as fondly about it as you do!
    God bless,

  16. Kristina on May 3rd, 2011 3:00 pm

    I went to Camp AJ for three years as a child and I have nothing but fond wonderful memories. My mother worked at the thrift store “The Attic” and we were invited by the sisters. I would love to contribute and possible come for a tour.

  17. shasta on May 12th, 2011 9:14 am

    I went to camp AJ for several years when i was younger, i loved it so much and looked forward to going every year, it was kind of my home away from home for one week out of the summer. This year I am sending my oldest daughter to the camp, she is so excited because she has never been to one so she is looking forward to it. for me it is the first time she will be away from home for that length of time. I hope that she enjoys it as much as i did, but if it is still anything like it was when i went she is going to love it and want to go back each year. Hopefully when my other to girls get old enough they will be able to attend the camp as well.

  18. admin on May 12th, 2011 10:26 am

    @ Kristina,
    Camp AJ has gone under some recent renovations, so a contribution and possible tour of the improvements would be great! I have forwarded your information to Liz Phelps, Camp Manager ( Feel free to contact her or she should be in contact soon.
    Thank you,

  19. tyler on June 26th, 2011 2:38 am

    I’ve been apart of CAP as long as I can remember and I’ve been going to camp aj since I was six. I’m love all the people there and the counselers. This will be my last year as a camper and I know know it’ll be the best yet. At camp were one big family and I can’t wait to see you guys in july! :)

  20. tony on July 18th, 2011 7:18 am

    My wife(Ginger Newman Miller) went to camp AJ every year that she could. Now she is very excited about sending our oldest daughter Rebecca. she attends camp today I know she will have fun but I will miss her this week.

  21. susie on June 20th, 2012 1:21 pm

    dudddddddddddde this caaaaaaaamp is aweeeeeesome and brittany do u see this

  22. michelle on July 13th, 2012 1:35 pm

    i went to camp AJ Wheni was a kid and still have fond memories and i was a JC when i was 16 i look forward to when my kids r old enough to go

  23. Brittany on August 9th, 2012 5:58 am

    When I was a kid, I lived in the town of Jenkins Kentucky. I went to this camp for one week and I had a blast, I am sure it has changed a bit, but I just wanted to say that even now as an adult (today is my 22nd birthday), I can still think back to those times and remember what a difference it made in my life to make friends and learn more about well religion if you will. I had great counselors and I will never forget the fun times that I had in that one very special week.

  24. Christy on January 21st, 2013 5:41 am

    Two of my three daughters went to Camp AJ several years in a row each as well as my oldests friend and had the absolute best time ever, they all three learned to swim at camp. They are very anxious for their little sister to be old enough to go too, she’ll be 7 this spring (not much longer now) they are 23 n 16. (had to make them go because they were afraid, but then they never wanted to come home lol)

  25. marysuehurley on May 17th, 2013 3:11 pm

    i love comeing to camp aj we all had so much fun

  26. Adam on September 18th, 2013 3:37 am

    I attended Camp AJ many times when I was younger. It it something I will never forget and would give anything to be able to re-live. My favorite counselor from back the would have to be “Duck” I do not recall her real name but I wish I did. I hope all is well at Camp AJ.

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