By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
This week Camp Goodwill welcomed children for the first week of summer fun.
Last year, it did not see the throngs of happy campers that have kept it going strong for 86-years.
Tucked away under the tall trees, log cabins fill with the laughter of children. Wet towels hang outside on the line. Summer camp, a right of passage for many kids, has come around once again at Camp Goodwill in South Sioux City, Nebraska.
"I've been looking forward to this for three weeks," said 12-year-old Paiten Sullivan enthusiastically.
"I like the archery, and the cabins are very nice," added 11-year-old Dylan Leininger.
Camp Goodwill offers children ages 8-12 the chance to do what some of their classmates look forward to each year, attend sleep-over camp. The week-long camp costs $270 per student, but their parents only pay what they can, some as little as $20. Donations cover the rest.
"It's a great time for them to maybe get away from their troubles at home and just have fun being a kid," explained Assistant Camp Director Vanessa Norby.
They play with their peers, learn life lessons like respect, there's even time for religion. Sullivan splashes around at the pool with her friends. Something she couldn't do last year. It's not that she didn't want to. Mother Nature had different plans for a lot of us last summer.
"Flooding fears caused the camp to close last year. It was only the second time in its history. The first was also because of flooding back in 1952. It's closure caused the 500 or so campers and councilors looking for another place to spend their carefree summer days.
"Making phones calls to 127 parents at three o'clock in the morning to come get your children because we are possibly getting flood waters here. It was just not a liability or a risk we wanted to take," Camp Director Steve Moore said. They closed the camp the day before registration.
"I just know there are kids that this is all they look forward to all year long," said Norby.
"They were literally crying, they missed camp," remembered Norby.
The camp stayed high and dry, and without campers, Goodwill saw an opportunity to start one of the biggest projects in its history, the $2.6 million Achievement Center. Campers call this an outdoor camp from sun up to sunset.
"It's where you meet friends and you do what you can't at home. Like, we can go canoeing, and swimming. We don't get to do a lot of that at our house," said Sullivan.
Now, there's space to bring the outdoor fun inside, when mother nature won't play nice. That means the summer camp they count on won't have to be interrupted again.
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