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OAYA needs $3K to send kids to summer camp

July 07, 2010 - For many kids, attending summer camp is simply a fun, annual ritual that will one day live on in fond memories and dusty scrapbooks.

But for some kids, going to camp is a chance to turn their lives around, engage in self-improvement, find out what they're good at and feel better about themselves and their futures.

This summer Oxford-Addison Youth Assistance (OAYA) is planning to send 39 kids, ages 6-16, to various camps. The only thing standing in the group's way is money.

"Basically, we're $3,000 short," said OAYA Caseworker Hank Szlenkier. "Donations have been less than usual."

It will cost $11,630 to send all 39 kids to camp. Right now, OAYA has about $8,500 in actual cash and promised donations for its Adopt-A-Camper program.

Szlenkier views the whole camp experience as an opportunity for many of these kids to "work on their social skills" by interacting with others.

It's also an opportunity to spend quality time with some positive adult role models.

"Some kids may not be getting the best role modeling at home or from the media," Szlenkier said. "This is a chance for them to see there's another world out there."

In early August, 34 of the kids will be heading to Camp Copneconic in Fenton.

"We get a fantastic price break for a very high caliber camp," Szlenkier said. "They do just about everything right, including the food. They have excellent, well-trained counselors and a good management team."

With the exception of one camper who will spend an additional week there for counselor training, all of the campers will enjoy six days and five nights at Camp Copneconic.

One of those lucky campers will be staying at the "Circle C Ranch," Copneconic's horse camp.

Closer to home, OAYA is sending three kids to day camp at the Salvation Army's Echo Grove Camp in Addison Township and one kid to the Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Department's "Fun-N-Sun" day camp at the high school.

One of the OAYA campers is already enjoying her summer experience. This student's spending three weeks attending a day camp for budding young artists at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills.

To donate to the Adopt-A-Camper program, please make check or money order payable to Oxford-Addison Youth Assistance and mail it to P.O. Box 372, Oxford, MI 48371. Because OAYA is a nonprofit group, each donor will receive a receipt, so they can deduct the contribution from their income taxes.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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