CHURCH HILL — The new hope for Hawkins County’s Camp Hope in 2018 is that it can raise enough money to add an extra Kids Camp to the summer schedule and provide a free week-long camp experience to more disadvantage youths.
The 150-acre Camp Hope is operated by the Hope Community Church and is preparing for its sixth season in the New Canton community near Church Hill.
Every year Camp Hope provides a free week of summer camp to about 1,000 youths from lower income families.
The demand is always much greater than the number of available cots, and organizers are expecting slots to fill up fast when sign-ups begin on April 8 at 2 p.m. online at www.camphopetn.com — first come, first served.
Currently they host three Kids Camps for children in first through fifth grades and two Youth Camps for sixth through 12th grades.
A current fundraiser is attempting to add an extra Kids Camp, which would take a lot of children off the waiting list.
Last year, all camps were filled within 48 hours, and Camp Hope spokesman Austin Dillard said organizers had a waiting list long enough to fill another summer’s worth of camps.
The current T-shirt fundraiser is called Camp-assion Over Fashion.
Organizers are asking the public to take some of the money they would have spent on a new suit to wear on Easter Sunday and instead pay $20 for a special Camp Hope T-shirt designed specifically for this fundraiser to wear Easter morning.
“We fill up so fast, and if we have more donations, we can add camps or build more cabins and serve more kids,” Dillard said. “The goal is always to cut that waiting list. Last year, we added a third Kids Camp, whereas in the past we had just done two. We did it because there were so many on the waiting list, and then we added another camp, and there was still so many on the waiting list.”
The amount organizers need to raise to add one more camp is $7,500.
The cutoff day for shirt sales is March 12, so to meet their goal they’re going to have to sell roughly 25 shirts per day.
Shirts can be purchased online at www.camphope.bigcartel.com, where you can pick your size and color and decide whether you want it shipped to your home or to pick it up at one of the Hope Community Church campuses in either Allandale, Rogersville or Bulls Gap.
“We believe that our county is in a rough spot, and we believe the best way we can help our county is to focus on the kids,” Dillard said. “We’re really encouraging people to get involved in this mission whether they want to do a monetary donation or donate their time and make a personal investment in these kids.”
The first camp is June 6, and in-house camps continue through the end of July.
Churches and other organizations also rent the facility and host their own youth camps or adult retreats, and those continue through October.
Among the activities youngsters enjoy during their week of camp are zip-lining, swimming at the nearby Church Hill Public Pool, horseback riding, sports, arts and crafts, nature lessons, singing and a two-hour inner tube trip down the Holston River from Derrick Park to Laurel Run Park.
This camp is all about fun, but it’s also an opportunity for staff and counselors to teach children about Jesus Christ and hopefully bring Him into their lives if He’s not already there.
Each day’s events are book-ended with a worship service — the first after breakfast and the second right after supper before the kids go to bed.