Camp for kids of fallen U.S. soldiers starts in Campbellsport
CAMPBELLSPORT - A first-of-its-kind, free summer camp for children of fallen U.S. service members begins Saturday at the YMCA's Camp Matawa.
"It's going to be an incredible week of typical camp activities plus a lot of healing. This is the one place in America where the kids can come and talk about their loss and hopefully they leave camp feeling a little better about their situation," said Neil Willenson, co-founder of Camp Hometown Heroes and V.P. of Community Relations at Grafton-based Kapco Metal Stamping.
More than 60 kids are participating in the week-long camp and they come from across the country.
"We have two girls, ages thirteen and nine, traveling 12 hours by themselves all the way from Hawaii. We've got kids from Idaho, kids from San Diego, twelve kids from Houston Texas, literally kids from all over the country coming to Wisconsin."
There are also 25 kids from Wisconsin attending.
The camp will include traditional activities like swimming, archery, drama, and arts and crafts. There will also be surprise celebrity appearances from some American Idol stars and Olympic athletes.
"But perhaps more important than just the fun they'll have at this wonderful summer camp is the opportunity to heal a little bit. There's art therapy and music therapy. Maybe for the first time in their young lives, these children of the fallen will have the opportunity to be with other kids like them and talk about their situation and talk about their loss," said Willenson.
The camp is a chance to show gratitude to the kids and their families.
"We just feel a tremendous obligation to the families of the fallen. They've sacrificed so much for us, for this country, and for the freedoms we enjoy every day. We want to give them an incredible experience, we want them to know that they're loved and they're cared about, and that they can live very happy lives."