BELDING — The summer’s just begun and already many parents have heard the dreaded cry of “I’m bored …”
But that’s something the parents of 152 area children haven’t heard, at least not lately, thanks to a coordinated effort between Flat River Ministries, Cross Point Church in Belding and Evart-based Springhill Camp.
According to Jim Moore, one of three Cross Point pastors and a driving force behind bringing the “portable” camp experience to Belding, the camp is intended as a ministerial outreach and was made possible only through a cooperative effort of area schools, businesses and churches.
The camp got underway Monday and will run through Thursday at the former Orchard Hills Elementary School in Belding. Most of the campers are attending the day camp for only $20 — far less than the usual cost of $139 — for all four days, thanks to scholarships from Cross Point.
“We were hoping for 150 (campers),” Moore said. “We had 152 registered and I think we picked up a few more today.”
Moore added he and his fellow organizers were pleased with the turnout, particularly since this is the first year the group has offered the camping experience.
“We had tremendous support from area churches and businesses,” Moore noted. “And of course we have volunteers helping with things.”
The camp was promoted through flyers put out at area banks, churches and schools.
Moore connected with the Springhill Camp organization earlier this year and has been working since then to promote the event. Camp Director Naomi Boase said Springhill has been offering the day camps since 2006, when the first one was held in Detroit.
Over the years, the camp has gained in popularity. This summer 12 will be held throughout the midwest, with similar camps in the Detroit area, Ohio, Indiana and Chicago.
“It grows every year,” Boase said. “This summer we added two new (camp) teams, which gives us a total of 19 new locations.”
Springhill’s goal, Boase added, is to provide a camping experience to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity for outdoor activities, to give them a taste of the camping life while making it possible for the kids to sleep in their own beds at night.
The camp offers activities such as rock wall climbing, a water slide, slip and slide and other “high adventure” activities.
“There are 12 different activities we do,” Boase said. “We’re making this accessible to local communities and giving kids a chance to experience camping close to home.”
Several area families have stepped up to help house Springhill staffers while they are in town, Moore said.
“They bring all their staff in but they have no place to stay except with host families,” Moore said. “It takes a lot of volunteers to make it happen.”
Some area businesses that really stood out, Moore added, were Leppink’s Food Center which gave Moore space to promote the event, and Wellington Estates, which offered to pay the scholarship fee for any children living there; three kids accepted the offer.
Many of the volunteers helping out in the effort came from the Belding Ministerial Association, which was instrumental in bringing the camp to town.
“We got a lot of participation,” Moore said. “We just got hold of the idea and got a lot of help from other churches. We had good support from the community, the churches and the public school.”
As to repeating the camp again next year, Moore said that was a possibility, depending again on community support.