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Camp fund: High-Tor takes proactive stance in kids' lives

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A local YMCA-affiliated camp is trying to help children in crisis by offering an educational camp that builds lasting relationships.

Camp High-Tor works with more than 280 children in 11 weeks of summer camp at its site in Hurricane. Each day, campers have science & nature, arts & crafts, sports & recreation, swimming and core value classes.

Angel Anderson, who will be in her 10th season with the camp this summer, said she strives to make the camp a place where children "can leave the clichés of school and just be a kid. I always tell the kids 'I may not be able to control what happens at school or what happens at home, but I can control what happens at camp.'"

During one average camp day, an older couple that appeared to be "at the end of their rope" approached Anderson.

Earlier that week the couple had gotten a from call from a local police department saying that their granddaughter, Sara, had been removed from a hotel room where her mother and her mother's boyfriend had been smoking methamphetamine.

Sara was placed in her grandparents' custody, but they were having problems finding care for Sara during the day because they both worked daytime hours.

The Tri-County YMCA stepped in and placed Sara in Camp High-Tor through their scholarship program and agreed to help the couple find more permanent assistance for Sara.

In a similar situation, a camper named Joey came to the camp with assistance from the state Department of Health and Human Resources. One day, camp staff was told that Joey's mother had been arrested. His aunt was willing to care for him so that he would not be placed into foster care.

His aunt applied for assistance to help pay for Joey's camp care, "providing a little consistency in his life." Unfortunately, his aunt and her husband -- who have five children of their own -- were denied because they made too much money and were above the income assistance threshold.

The YMCA stepped in through Camp High-Tor and provided financial assistance for Joey to attend camp, Anderson said.

"I want it to be a place that everyone feels safe, has fun and lives up to their greatest potential," Anderson said. "It is easier to build strong children than repair broken adults."

The camp runs from June 4 to August 17 on a weeklong basis. There is no deadline for camp enrollment.

Campers get two snacks and a hot lunch each day of camp, which is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday - Friday. 

The program is looking for 75 to 100 sponsorships at a cost of $115 per camper, per week. Last year, the camp was able to provide financial assistance for 75 children.

For information on the camp, visit www.tri-countyymca.org email Anderson at angel@tri-countyymca.org or call 304-757-0016.

To help a child attend Camp High-Tor or another camp, mail your donation to the Gazette Charities Send-A-Child-To-Camp Fund, 1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301. Every penny donated goes to camp scholarships; The Charleston Gazette covers all administrative costs. 

Reach Kathryn Gregory at kathryng@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.


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