Taking a break from the humid temperatures after a stirring game of dodgeball on Thursday afternoon, about a dozen children cooled off by playing other games in the Crosland Park Neighborhood Association headquarters, including taking a spin with a hula hoop or taking a swing at Nintendo “Wii Sports.”
The children are taking part in the third annual summer camp hosted by the association.
During the weeklong event, children ages 5 to 17 who live in Crosland Park spend about four hours each day playing games, fellowshipping and eating.
The camp is free for the children to attend.
“We’re volunteering our time to organize games with them and feed them lunch,” said Jack Knox, a member of the association.
The activities vary each day, according to Knox, who said association members formulated the idea three years ago when discussing ways to improve the community.
“We’re doing it so that our kids know we support them,” he said. “We want them to know we’re there behind them. We’re teaching them things about being supportive to themselves and working together to have fun.”
Knox said the children enjoy the camp and are invited to come back as long as they want until age 17.
“They love it,” he said. “They love the idea of coming in here and talking and playing games. … They like the idea that somebody actually cares about them and knows them, sees them day to day.”
Each year, the camp gets a visit from an officer from the Department of Aiken Public Safety.
“It takes a village to raise these children,” Knox said. “We don’t want the police officers to see them only with something bad. They come out here, talk to them and get to know their names.”
Gianna Richardson, 12, has been to the camp before.
“My favorite part is when we go outside and play dodgeball and talk to people we are friends with and play Wii,” she said, adding that she’s learned to be polite to others and always be respectful to adults.
Knox said the camp is always welcoming new campers.
“We enjoy having fun with the kids, and, if there’s anymore in the neighborhood that would like to come out, we’d sure like to have them,” he said.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012.
He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Cornelius Moses, 6, tries to bounce a ball in the air for as long as he can without letting it touch the ground while Anna Cummings, left, keeps time during the Crosland Park Neighborhood Association’s summer camp this week.×
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Tyrese Rouse, 13, and Alexia Hunter, 10, play a game of “Connect Four” during the Crosland Park Neighborhood Association’s summer camp this week.×
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Tyrese Rouse, 13, and Alexia Hunter, 10, play a game of “Connect Four” at the Crosland Park Neighborhood Association’s summer camp.×