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Military children eligible for free summer camp

By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 18, 2015

A North Carolina nonprofit group that provides free summer camps for military children has opened its registration for this year's camps.

Camp Corral has served thousands of children across 16 states since 2010, when it was established by Golden Corral restaurant chain founder James Maynard.

This year, the organization said it has expanded its reach to 23 camps in 19 states, including three in North Carolina: YMCA Camp Hanes in King, YMCA Camp Weaver in Greensboro and the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia.

Families can apply for registration at campcorral.org or by calling 855-605-1267.

While all military families are eligible, officials said priority will be given to children of wounded, disabled or fallen service members.

Officials said the increased offerings this year are in response to the program's popularity.

"Camp Corral has responded to the high demand, and we are excited to expand our programs to Arizona, Kentucky and Minnesota in 2015," Betsey Fortlouis, executive director of Camp Corral, said in a news release. "Military kids face unique challenges, and it is a privilege to partner with best-in-class camps from across the country to offer this week-of-a-lifetime summer camp to our nation's young heroes. We look forward to another successful summer and another year of growth."

Officials said Camp Corral offers opportunities for military children to build friendships.

Camp activities include archery, horseback riding and ropes course challenges.

The weeklong camps will run from May 31 to Aug. 15.

Last summer, the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia, near the Albemarle Sound, hosted 240 military dependents at two camps.

"It's our chance to give back to those kids who sacrifice more than others," said the camp's director, Lee Scripture. "It's our chance to serve those children."

Most of the campers came from the Fayetteville, Jacksonville and Norfolk, Virginia, areas, he said. But others came from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

"They're absolutely incredible," Scripture said. "It's always amazing to me how independent and well-rounded they are."

brooksd@fayobserver.com

©2015 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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