Wild horses couldn't keep children away from camps
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
June 11, 2010 12:00 AM | 2364 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Meghan Fritze, 9, daughter of Susan and David Fritze of Ball Ground, combs Daisy Mae’s hair while her sister,  Elizabeth Fritze, 11,  background, combs her tail at Hillbilly Willie's Ponies and Pals Summer Day Camp on Wednesday. The camp is a fundraiser for Mrs. Sowers’ Crossroads Animal Rescue, a nonprofit organization that rescues animals.  Parents are still enrolling their children into summer camp despite a still-faltering 
economy.<br>Photo by Samamntha Wilson
Meghan Fritze, 9, daughter of Susan and David Fritze of Ball Ground, combs Daisy Mae’s hair while her sister, Elizabeth Fritze, 11, background, combs her tail at Hillbilly Willie's Ponies and Pals Summer Day Camp on Wednesday. The camp is a fundraiser for Mrs. Sowers’ Crossroads Animal Rescue, a nonprofit organization that rescues animals. Parents are still enrolling their children into summer camp despite a still-faltering economy.
Photo by Samamntha Wilson
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Despite an economy that's yet to turn around, parents are still enrolling their children into summer camps in Cherokee County.

Participation at summer camps looks to be on the same level as last year's enrollment, according to program directors.

At Hillbilly Willie's Summer Day Camp (hillbillywillie.com) at Hillbilly Willie's Ponies and Pals in northeast Cherokee County, 10-12 children have signed up for each of the five sessions this summer.

The camp, which began operating last year, only accepts 12 children per session.

Becki Jo Sowers, executive director of Crossroads Animal Rescue, which operates the camp as a fundraiser, said about the same number of children enrolled last year.

The camp continues to be popular because of its diverse activities and affordable rates, she said.

The camp, which is $175 a week, operates from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays through July 31. It's open to children ages 4 to 11 and offers horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, farm animals, games and hayrides.

"As long as we fill up the camps, we're good to go," she said, adding there were enough donations from business to provide 27 scholarships to children.

She said she's already helped "several families" acquire the scholarships to attend the camps.

Enrollment at the Cherokee County Council of PTAs' Safety Town, cherokeecountysafety town.org, is also holding steady. The camp, where children learn about safety in a miniature town from local experts, has 215 children enrolled in all three weeks of the camp, said Co-Director Debi Radcliff.

Ms. Radcliff, who also serves as the county school board chairwoman, said 82 student volunteers are manning the camp this year.

Last year, there were about 220 campers and 77 teenage volunteers, but there was an extra week-long session offered.

"Everything has been smooth and steady," she said of the first session, which began Monday.

Held at Bascomb Elementary School in Towne Lake, Safety Town is open to children who enter kindergarten in the fall.

Each session is from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The first session runs through Friday; the second session is from June 14 to 18; and the third session will be June 21 to 25.

The cost to attend is $50 per week, which includes a daily snack, materials and a T-shirt.

Changes to this year's Safety Town include participation by Cherokee 911 and the replacement of another animal rescue organization with Cherokee County Animal Control.

Mrs. Radcliff said Cherokee 911 came to her as its staff thought they could contribute to the program.

The program also had enough money to purchase a new miniature traffic light, and Safe Kids Cherokee County donated 15 new miniature cars. The WellStar Foundation paid for the new cars, Mrs. Radcliff said.

More children have signed up to participate in this summer's Hide and Seek Day Camp at Mount Zion Baptist Church.

The camp has about 140 children participating in the six-week summer program, said camp Director Cathy Geist.

Last year, when the program lasted only three weeks, there were about 66 children, Ms. Geist said.

Hide and Seek Day Camp, hideandseekdaycamp.net, open to children ages 5 to 10, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday through July 16.

The cost is $125 per week and activities include learning a Christian curriculum, field games, a ropes course, arts and crafts, and a rock climbing wall.

Mrs. Geist said the program has grown because of word-of-mouth, adding that the first few days have run smoothly.

She said she hopes to expand the program to eight weeks next summer.

"We are pleased and excited," she said. "We are looking forward to the additions."
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