Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 27, 2013

Organizers of day camp meet with local leaders

Mark Maynard
The Independent

ASHLAND — Organizers of a nationally run day camp met with local leaders on Wednesday to explain their mission and ways the community can partner with them.

WinShape Camps for Communities will bring a camp to Bridges Christian Church on July 1 through 5. The goal is for 500 first- through sixth-graders in the community to attend the world-class camp associated with the WinShape foundation and Chick-fil-A.

Ken Thomas, senior director of camp ministry for WinShape, explained the camp to an audience of about 100 community leaders at Park Place.

The cost for the camp is $99 per child — a discounted price because it takes place during the holiday week. Partner scholarships are a way the community can help, Thomas said. Partner volunteers are also needed, although a camp team staff of 20 runs and organizes activities.

While it is not a church camp or sports camp per se, biblical truths are taught daily and many of the skills activities are sports oriented. However, each camper can choose the skill they want to participate in for the week and many are not sports active, including art and drama classes.

“We say there’s something for every child,” Thomas said. “Once they choose a skill, they do the same one all week long. By the end of the week, they are much more skilled at whatever they chose than when they started.”

The camp staff is a select group as well, chosen from among 1,800 who applied for positions. Camp teams of 20 work nine weeks and go from community to community. There are 72 camps nationwide, including the one in the Ashland area. Two-hundred fifty new staff members were hired to go with the 225 coming back from last year, he said.

WinShape Camps for Communities started in 2008 with camps in 27 communities. The camps have tripled in number in five years. Thomas estimated that between 17,000 to 20,000 campers will experience camps this summer.

“We work hard to make the camp remarkable,” he said. “We want to do that.”

Thomas said the day starts in the church auditorium. This year’s theme is the heart and is based on Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” A giant castle will be brought to the church.

Children are divided into three age groups — first- and second-graders, third- and fourth-graders and fifth- and sixth-graders.

The camp runs daily and parents drop off children and pick them up. On Friday, the camp concludes around noon with a Chick-fil-A-sponsored lunch for campers and parents or guardians.

Besides partner scholarships and volunteer opportunities, material donations are also sought, including bottled water, snacks for each day and sack lunches. Campers are expected to bring a sack lunch each day.

Scholarship donations go 100 percent to scholarships and remain in local communities, Thomas said. If enough money has been raised, it will be carried over to the next summer’s camp.

Steve Barfield, operator of the Ashland Chick-fil-A, was instrumental in bringing WinShape to the Ashland area. He and his wife, Dee Dee, have been in the area since June.

Camper registration has begun. For more information, visit winshapecamps.org or call Dan Bartlett at Bridges at (606) 836-8944.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.