Salvation Army sends kids to camp

Joshua Eckman, 11, hugs the Chick-Fil-A cow before boarding the bus to travel to Midlothian for a weeklong summer camp at the Salvation Army’s Camp Hoblitzelle.

A group of Brazos Valley kids are headed to summer camp this week, thanks to the Salvation Army of Bryan-College Station and donations from local residents and businesses.

Twenty-seven kids got a send-off from Bryan on Monday morning before boarding a bus headed to the Salvation Army’s Camp Hoblitzelle in Midlothian. The children will spend the week participating in swimming, arts and crafts, horseback riding, archery, Christian education and more.

The Salvation Army of Bryan-College Station will send more than 50 kids to the camp this summer. The first set of campers was celebrated Monday with gifts and treats from Shipley’s Donuts, Wal-Mart and Chick-Fil-A. All of the children attend camp free of charge.

The trip would have been out of reach for many of the families without the support of financial donations received during the Salvation Army’s annual Doing the Most Good Luncheon, organization officials said.

The camp is designed to boost self-confidence and improve socialization through structured group activities that address spiritual, mental, physical and emotional development, Salvation Army leaders said.

Salvation Army of Bryan-College Station Capt. Paul Ryerson said the organization’s summer camp has a special meaning for him.

“I started going there when I was 7 years old as a camper, and when I turned 15, it was my first summer job,” he said. “I worked there for six years at Camp Hoblitzelle and met my future wife there.”

It was while working at the camp during Hurricane Katrina that Ryerson felt compelled to become a Salvation Army officer.

“We housed 130 evacuees in that tragedy, and during that week we were there, I received my calling that I wanted to do this for a living,” he said.

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