Local camp gives thousands of at-risk kids an outlet

LAWRENCE – A program run this week at Camp Belzer in Lawrence is giving thousands of at-risk kids an outlet by taking them outdoors.

The program, called Outdoor Challenge Days, brings about 9,000 kids of all ages to the camp for a day of fun and activities like archery and rope courses.

It’s part of the larger Reaching for Tomorrow program, run by the Crossroad of America Council, Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana. The program spends all year in classrooms, teaching kids life skills like respect and teamwork.

“Character-based programs, things based on honesty and working together and general life skills,” Patrick Sterrett with the Crossroads of America Council said.

Most of the kids in the program are considered at-risk, either with special needs or in low-income families that can’t afford to send them to summer camps.

“A lot of our students will not be given the opportunity to experience (these) hands on activities (elsewhere),” third grade teacher Belinda Williams said.

Not only does the camp provide kids with life skills and improve their behavior at school, but it’s just plain fun for those like fourth grader Jadae North.

“It’s like recess here all day,” North said.

For more information on the program, visit the organization’s website.

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