08/04/13 — Kids build fires, friendships at YMCA Outdoor Camp

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Kids build fires, friendships at YMCA Outdoor Camp

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on August 4, 2013 1:50 AM

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Alexis Garner, 9, sits on the branch of a tree during the Family YMCA Outdoor Camp Monday.

When Savannah Shoemake first heard about the Y's outdoor adventure camp, she thought, "Bugs, tree branches and really high grass -- how's that going to be fun?"

She took a chance and signed up anyway and had is having the time of her life.

The outdoor adventure camp runs throughout the summer, until the week before school starts.

The youths did all kinds of outdoor activities, like setting up a campsite, building different kinds of fires, making their own bow and arrow and learning how to read a map, said camp counselor Aaron Pate.

"The camp teaches them how to survive on their own," he said. "They are learning skills they can use in the future if they need to. And it will help them if they go on camping trips with their parents."

And when they weren't learning survival skills, they were chilling at their favorite hideout in the woods or playing various games.

"They have spent a lot of time in the woods," Pate said. "There's a place a ways down the trail that we go to called the creek. They go back there and it's their hangout place."

Pate said the outdoor camp encourages the youths to be creative and use their imaginations.

And that's exactly what they did.

"We use our imagination, and it's awesome the things we can come up with," 12-year-old Savannah said.

"I never really did anything outside before camp. When I got the chance to be in an outdoor camp, a whole new world opened up to me. I found so many things that I love doing outdoors now. Once you get past the whole being with bugs and getting dirty, it's awesome."

Noah Goroski didn't know what he was getting into when he signed up for the outdoor camp his first year.

"It started to grow on me and I just wanted to come back and come back and come back," the 10-year-old said.

The most fun part of the camp for 11-year-old Bunnie Smith was setting up tents and making fires.

"I learned a lot about camping and just being outdoors, fish and stuff," she said. "It's really fun.

"I don't really like getting dirty a lot. I'm fine with bugs. But now I get dirty after I got used to it at camp."

Bunnie said the skills she learned at the camp will definitely come in handy when she goes camping with her dad at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.

"And if I ever have a brother or sister, I can teach them what to do," she said.

While learning survival skills at the camp, 9-year-old Zachary Brown also made a lot of new friends.

And he has a souvenir from camp -- a cut on his right arm.

"That'll be a scar," he said. "Something to remember camp by."

Savannah said you never know what will happen in the future. But she's learned some survival skills that will help her be prepared for whatever comes.

And it was a healthy experience.

"It's just so awesome," Savannah said. "All the things we do here."