June 7—TUPELO — The local Salvation Army is looking for 30 additional campers for its annual regional camp.
Camp Hidden Lake is the annual camp for the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi (ALM) Division of the Salvation Army. The 300-acre camp in Lexington, MS provides a traditional summer camp experience to thousands of children ages 6-17. Five camps take place from June 13 to July 23, focusing on adventure, music and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).
Despite opening camp registration in mid-May, 30 Tupelo Salvation Army RV sites are still open, said Tupelo Salvation Army Capt. Heather Dolby.
The purpose of the camps is to provide “a summer camp experience where they get to know God better, they can make good friends, and they can have fun just being a kid,” Dolby said.
“For many of our children, they often find themselves in situations that require them to grow rapidly, and certainly in all areas over the past two years of the pandemic,” Dolby said. “Being able to come to camp gives them the opportunity to socialize and build that social experience that a lot of kids lack.”
Campers participate in activities such as swimming lessons, adventure and scouting camps, arts and crafts, sporting events, music development, boating and campfires. There is also a Christian accent, like the morning devotions. At graduation, campers leave with new experiences and skills, Dolby said.
Staff are carefully vetted and trained with strict protocols around child safety and vulnerability, Dolby said.
For many campers, Camp Hidden Lake is an unforgettable experience. Some decide to return as staff members once they are old enough to provide the younger generation with the camp experience.
Chickita Perkins of the Ladies Auxiliary remembers starting her camping experience at the age of five, joining her older cousins. She enjoyed the activities and the memories, like getting a military-style alarm clock in the morning. She remained a camper until she was 16; then, she decided to work as a staff member for two summers, as well as special weekends throughout the year.
“You have to continue this journey with people that you were camping with,” Perkins said.
It was also an opportunity to meet and be a role model for children. Friendship is important to Perkins because of Camp Hidden Lake. Even at 45, Perkins still keeps in touch with some of his former campers. She encourages today’s campers not to shut themselves out of the opportunity to meet new people.
“When you’re able to experience something, take that chance,” Perkins said.
Registration is still open for Adventure and STEAM Camps, which are scheduled to take place three separate weeks from June 20 to July 23. Campers can participate in several camps.
For those looking to sign up, it’s imperative to sign up as soon as possible, Dolby said. Registration is usually $300/week per camper, but bursaries are available that reduce the fee to $20 to reserve the spot. The ladies’ auxiliary can provide the necessary supplies. Transportation is provided.
For more information on enrolling at Camp Hidden Lake, contact The Salvation Army Tupelo on Facebook, call The Salvation Army at 662-842-9222, or contact Capt. Heather at email@example.com .org.