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story.lead_photo.caption Westside Eagle Observer/MIKE ECKELS Adam Jones (left) takes aim on other players as Lorelai Pruett watches the pair play a modified version of dodgeball during Camp War Eagle at Northside Elementary in Decatur July 24. Jones and Pruett were among 75 area kids that participated in the week-long event.

DECATUR -- One summer activity that kids almost always dread is going away to camp. It means leaving the activities they love to do, as well as leaving friends behind for several weeks. But one Northwest Arkansas organization found a way kids could continue to do their favorite summer activities without leaving the area.

Camp War Eagle, based in Rogers, was in Decatur July 23 for a week-long day camp at Northside Elementary. About 75 kids, ages 6-17, participated in the camp which began at 9 a.m. and lasted until 5 p.m. each day. Decatur was the eighth and final stop on the 2018 day camp tour.

Camp War Eagle began operation in the Rogers area in 2006 as an overnight experience for kids who were unable to afford to go away to a traditional summer camp. According to Michael Summers, the day camp coordinator, the group felt they were missing children in smaller communities and needed to find a solution.

"We saw a population of kids whose parents thought, 'I don't know if I am ready to send them to an overnight camp or away for one or two weeks,'" said Summers. "We began to think of a way that would give them a day camp where they could literally come in for a day, check in, have a fun day and go back home in the afternoon."

The camp expanded into Springdale in 2011, taking over the southern wing of the Jones Center for Families. Camp War Eagle eventually reached out to include the Fayetteville and Bentonville areas.

"We did a really good job of reaching the big four, Fayetteville, Springdale, Bentonville and Rogers," Summers stated. "But we realized that there are a lot of smaller communities in Northwest Arkansas, like Elkins, Huntsville, Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove and Decatur, that we were missing out on. Reaching these kids and providing a really awesome experience became a priority."

Eventually, a group of counselors came up with a simple solution. Bring the camp to the kids.

"We packed everything in a big old box truck and assigned some of our counselors to travel with the unit, setting up camps in schools, churches or wherever we could to have a fun week of camp," said Summers.

Camp War Eagle is a Christian-based sports, adventure and recreation summer camp for children who live in the Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison County areas. It is a place for children to have fun while gaining a greater appreciation for God, themselves and others.

"We offer a lot of things the kids can do," said Summers "We have a morning show where we have fun characters come out and give announcements for the day. We do something called tribal competition where the kids are part of two different teams and compete in all kinds of sports. With sports, we talk about the three planes, maximum effort, maximum enthusiasm. We also teach them true sportsmanship, how to respond if you win and how to respond if you don't win."

"We have morning instructions in arts and crafts, sports, nature, a low ropes element, acting. They have hour-long classes in each throughout the week, we have lunch and then we have a mish-mash which is a free-will fun time," Summers said. "We have a little get together we call lifeline where we talk about different concepts like being courageous, being grateful, being responsible, being respectful, and then they watch a little skit with fun little characters. They break into groups and talk about these concepts: what does it mean to be grateful, what does it mean to be responsible at home, at school, and around each other?"

For more information on Camp War Eagle, visit its website at campwareagle.org or call 479-751-8899.

General News on 08/08/2018

Print Headline: Summer Camp comes to Decatur

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