This summer, the Kiwanis Club of Corrales resumed the kids’ summer camp south of Gallup that it has sponsored, organized and staffed since 2012. The annual event was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but on June 2, 20 youngsters aged 10 to 16 from the Albuquerque metro area were driven to the rustic camp with three dormitories, lodge with commercial kitchen and small chapel surrounded by 160 acres of ponderosa and piñon woodland. The site is near Vanderwagon. “This is not the kind of camp where you drop off your kids to be managed by a dedicated staff. You have to do all that yourself!” one of the organizers, Dave Worledge, explained. So about a dozen members of Corrales’ Kiwanis Club volunteered to obtain the food, prepare, cook, and serve it, as well as to develop and manage the camp program of activities and instruct and supervise the kids at all times.
The camp experience was started in 2012 as a memorial to Pamela Worledge, who was an enthusiastic camper and founding treasurer of the local club. Counselors at Corrales Elementary and Taylor Middle schools recommend deserving campers based on family circumstances and good behavior, he said. “We create four teams balanced with regard to boys, girls, age and abilities. Each team has a team leader, selected for maturity and leadership ability. Pretty much all camp activities contribute to the points system by which the teams compete, e.g. performance in games, participation, team names, banners (and coats of arms this year), totems, skits, building wilderness shelters, washing up, sweeping, cleaning bathrooms, behavior and helpfulness.” Worledge added.
The emphasis is on building social skills, teamwork and personal confidence. To that end KCC designed and installed a 10-stage low ropes course back in 2011. “On the course, the emphasis is showing kids they can all find their own level and improve their own performance with a bit of grit and help from others. It has the added benefit that they find helping others increases their own pleasure and confidence, builds team spirit, and makes everyone happy.”
The camp experience includes camp-fires, hot dogs, Dutch oven cobbler while ‘Smores add their own magic. The climax of these activities is the grand “Olympic Games” that culminate in a team tug-of-war over a sloppy mud pit.
“We are tremendously grateful for financial support from the Corrales Ditch Run, an annual grant from the Royal Bank of Canada, occasional donations, and transport of the kids to and from the camp provided at very little cost by the drivers and vans of the Rio Rancho Boys and Girls Club,” Worledge commended. “We are also grateful for support from the Corrales Harvest Festival, on which we relied very heavily in the early years, and which still comes to our rescue when the need arises.”
Throughout the five-day camp, children have continual access to art materials. This year Denise Stramel gave rock-painting sessions.