Summer 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 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!Share