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Harvest-supported camps end season with Hooker Field event
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Students in the Harvest-funded local camps marked the end of their season at Friday’s Martinsville Mustangs game. Above, several campers threw the game’s first pitches to the Mustangs.
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Three local organizations providing youth services marked the end of the summer camp season with special activities during a Martinsville Mustangs baseball game on Friday.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge, Family YMCA and MHC After 3 set up booths at the game to showcase recreational and educational activities in which their camps participated this summer.

Wearing “I Survived Summer Camp 2013” T-shirts, campers, camp workers and enrichment camp partners also sang the National Anthem, threw out the first pitch and led baseball fans in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch.

The organizations serve a total of more than 1,800 youth each year.

In the past three months, however, more than 700 students attended the groups’ summer camps and learned — or learned about — everything ranging from acoustic guitar to gymnastics to biomedical engineering, according to The Harvest Foundation.

Earlier this year, Harvest awarded a total of $103,703 to the three camp providers to support their summer programs.

That money helped camps enroll more than 190 new students ages 4-17 from households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, as well as provide transportation to campers, according to Harvest.

Established in 2002 with proceeds from the sale of Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, the foundation invests in programs and initiatives designed to address local challenges in health, education and community vitality.

Young people should not miss out on a memorable, enriching summer due to financial constraints, said Harvest Program Officer Gladys Hairston.

Hairston said the camps are designed to combat “summer learning loss” which occurs when students forget what they learned in the past school year. That hinders their learning during the coming year.

In addition, “the social and emotional benefits of having these programs in place are immeasurable,” Hairston said.

She said visiting the summer camps is one of her favorite parts of her job.

“I am absolutely blown away by the care and dedication” that camp workers and others involved in the camps show local students, Hairston added.

Phil Echols of Become Better LLC participated in Friday’s event, helping to celebrate the work of those who make the camps possible yearly. He helped kick off the camps in June with a professional development workshop.

“At the beginning of the summer,” Echols said, “I had the opportunity to work with the camp staffs in some positive team-building activities. Each person identified his or her strengths and figured out ways to use these strengths to cultivate the teamwork needed to make this summer the best it could be.”


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