07/16/12 — Salvation Army keeping busy with summer youth camps

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Salvation Army keeping busy with summer youth camps

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on July 16, 2012 1:46 PM

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Young people have some fun time at the Salvation Army Camp. The Salvation Army hopes to keep them connected to its church once they return from camp.

At Christmastime, the Salvation Army bell ringers are out in full force. It's the busiest time of the year for the organization. But people might not know that summer keeps Salvation Army volunteers scurrying as well.

That's when youths are ferried to and from the Salvation Army camp near Lexington, about three hours from Goldsboro. Several have gone the past few weeks and attendance will continue through the end of July.

"Camp starts on a Monday and ends on a Saturday," Commander Lt. Kenny Igleheart said. "It's a six-hour round trip drive each time we take them or go back to pick them up."

Igleheart said it's a great opportunity for the youths to not only have fun, but also to learn about God and to have Bible study.

An average day starts early with raising the flag at camp, then doing the Pledge of Allegiance and having a thought for the day. Then it's time for breakfast, followed by cabin cleanup.

After that, the youths have Bible study for an hour and a half.

They eat lunch, then go do fun activities like swimming in the pool, canoeing, doing pedal carts, playing basketball and doing a ropes course.

"It's all those things you ever wanted to do as a kid," Igleheart said.

He said the purpose of the camp is to connect the youths with the Salvation Army church. It costs $200 per child per week for the camp, which the Salvation Army pays for with the help of local donors.

Youths who go to the camp are usually involved with the Salvation Army church in some way.

"We have three boys who are in foster care who come to our church maybe once a month," Igleheart said. "But then they go to camp, they come back and their lives are changed because they realize where they were and what they have now.

"A light goes off in their heads, and they realize that life can be different than what they've seen. And these boys have had a hard life."

Igleheart said even something as simple as swimming in a pool or getting three meals a day has a big impact on them.

"Hopefully we can keep them in the church and keep them connected," Igleheart said.

Igleheart said the Salvation Army was founded to tell others about Christ and one way it does this is through ministries like summer camp.

That's something both Igleheart and his wife, Julie, witnessed first hand when they taught at a camp recently.

"My group of girls was talking about sexual purity," she said. "I made all the girls a purity bracelet. This one girl who was about 14 came up to me and said, 'Lieutenant, I can't take the purity bracelet.'

"She said she gave in to peer pressure and was only 12 when she lost her virginity. I explained to her that it didn't mean that God hasn't forgiven her. We prayed and we talked. And she understood that she could be pure from now on. And she took the bracelet."

Igleheart said that experience was life-changing for that girl.

"She realized that starting today, she can start over," he said. "Kids do worry about what they've done, and their life just keep going down and down until they realize that today is a new day. Those types of stories happen all the time at camp. That's why we do them."

Igleheart said he never hears a youth say he or she is ready to go home from camp.