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Today is August 14, 2018

Editorial

Camp for special-needs children moving forward in Copiah County

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

The 10-year effort to create a year-round camp facility for special-needs children in Mississippi has taken a giant leap forward.

Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation staged the groundbreaking ceremony in May, and work is underway to prepare the 326-acre site near Crystal Springs for construction of Camp Kamassa.

Members of the US Air Force Reserve Innovative Readiness Training program are working on the first phase of construction this summer as a training exercise.

Camp Kamassa will serve children dealing with physical and mental challenges, life-threatening illnesses and other serious issues. Every building with be handicap accessible, and qualified specialists will be on hand to help campers with some of the activities, like archery.

These children stand to reap huge benefits from the fun, adventures, fellowship and medical care Camp Kamassa will provide. They’ll build friendships with others coping with the same life challenges while enjoying the same activities offered at conventional youth camps.

Just as important, a volunteer medical staff will attend camp with their existing special-needs groups.

The camp will also offer campers’ parents, family members and caretakers much-needed time to relax and recharge, knowing their youngsters are in good hands and having fun.

Mississippi has nothing like Camp Kamassa. Several organizations around the state conduct summer camps for children suffering from serious illness, but they have to meet at facilities designed for use by the general public—state parks, church campgrounds and the like.

What these groups sorely need is a facility designed specially for youngsters with extraordinary needs in daily medical care and accessability.

Camp Kamassa has been carefully planned to serve those needs in every way possible. The groups will pay a minimal fee for each camper and volunteer attending, but no camper will ever pay to attend.

Crystal Springs resident Mary Kitchens has been the driving force behind the camp’s creation since she first envisioned the facility. Inspiration came from her own life-altering experience as the mother of a toddler with cancer (who’s now all grown up and working himself to help create Camp Kamassa).

In 2008 she created the MTK Foundation, a public non-profit organization, to get the ball rolling. Kitchens, a board of equally enthusiastic Mississippians—including educators and medical professionals—and volunteers have worked hard to promote the Camp Kamassa concept and raise funding for its construction and operation.

Individuals, businesses, corporations, foundations and others make up a growing list of sponsors and donors helping to make the camp become a reality.

Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association will build electric service to the camp and serve its electricity needs.

The Mississippi Legislature approved a special vehicle license tag bearing the camp logo as a way Mississippians can show their support for the project. MTK receives $24 of the tag’s $31 fee.

Camp Kamassa is taking shape, but more help from the public is needed. MTK estimates some $17 million will be spent to build the camp. There are several ways Mississippians can help support the project, including donations of money, volunteer service, fundraiser sponsorships and participation in Friends of MTK activities. Even a portion of your purchases from Amazon.com and Kroger can be earmarked for MTK.

You can get full details on these opportunities and view the master plan for this impressive camp at MTKfound.com.

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