Discounted Summer Camp Costs Attract Local Parents – and Teens

(counterclockwise from top) Ethan Smeltzer, Josh Zimmerman, Leah Acierno, Shayla Lloyd, Elisa Veri and Bailey Shaffer take this selfie photograph to show the fun they are having during a summer camp at Camp Allegheny in Ellwood City. (submitted photo).

By Jonathan Weaver

While sleeping late into the afternoon could be the expectation of summer vacation for some students, others look forward to leaving Armstrong County behind for a few days with friends at summer camp.

Armstrong School District students only have 10 more days of class and many are already making summer plans to go to a week of activity at the Salvation Army Camp Allegheny and Retreat Center in Ellwood City (Lawrence County).

Lieutenant Amber Imhoff hopes to transport about 100 children and teenagers aged 6-17 to the camp – about 45 minutes from Kittanning – throughout the summer – nearly twice as many went to camp in 2013. She said the goal isn’t that out of reach.

“We’ve even had kids who have come from other counties because their camp slots were full. I don’t care what church they go to, or if they go to church at all: if they can get here, they can go to camp,” Lt. Imhoff said. “I would say 80 percent of the kids we send don’t go to church here or other programs.”

And she said parents won’t have to worry about a majority of the cost – if any at all.

“The church picks up $150 per kid and we ask the parents to pay $25 for the week,” Lt. Imhoff said. “If they can’t, the older ones, we put them to work around the building to cover the $25 – which they usually don’t mind doing.”

Camp Allegheny offers two Outdoor Adventure Camp sessions in June, two other sport camps and a Music Camp that spans during the Fourth of July holiday, to name a few.

This will be the third summer Elisha Veri– a sophomore at Kittanning Senior High – attends a week of camp. Rather than toughing out football during Sports Camp, she will train her piano skills during Music Camp.

“This is going to be my last year going as a camper. Next year, I’m planning to work there,” Veri said. “I’m still talking my mom into it, but I’m pretty sure I got her on this one.”

Veri received a keyboard for Christmas 2013 and has had lessons locally since.

Veri predicts that she won’t pack until the night before, and that her seven-year-old brother, Dominic, will miss her the most since she usually comes home to letters and drawings.

Andriy Dunmire – an 8th grader at Kittanning Junior High – is attending his second Sports Camp as well as a day camp this summer.

The two teens also attended the teen youth council retreat earlier this month and are regulars in the local Bible Bowl team.

Other summer activities include their annual Vacation Bible School, mini-day camps in July and the Teen Summer Youth Rally July 11.

“Summer is really a busy time around here, but we’re really excited because we’d rather the young people be here than hanging out in the community without somebody supervising them,” Lt. Imhoff said. “A lot of times people in our community say ‘There’s nothing for our young people to do.’ There’s always something for young people to do at the Salvation Army.”

Both students agreed it is sad to leave camp at the end of the week, but agreed the Salvation Army provided them with that opportunity and many other fun ones during the summer.