22 kids from Orleans go to Salvation Army camp
There was a big increase in the number of children from Orleans County who attended a Salvation Army in Penn Yan from last Thursday until Tuesday.
There were 22 kids ages 6 to 12 who attended the camp from the county, up from six last year.
“There isn’t one kid who didn’t absolutely love it,” said Andrew Szatkowski, who volunteered to help families fill out the forms electronically.
The change from submitting the forms by paper to electronics was a difficult barrier for many families. Szatkowski was trained to do the paperwork and met with families at local public libraries to get the forms submitted online to the Salvation Army.
Szatkowski attended Camp Troutburg, a former Salvation Army camp in Kendall, when he was a kid and he said it was a big highlight of his childhood. He wanted others locally to have a similar experience.
He and his wife Sara served as chaperones for the bus ride there Thursday and then back to Orleans County on Tuesday. Szatkowski also was at the camp on Monday when he joined his brother in serving 300 Chick-Fil-A meals to the 170 campers and staff. Jimmer Szatkowski opened a Chick-Fil-A in February in Cicero near Syracuse. Jimmer donated the food on Monday.
Szatkowski pushed to have more local children attend the camp. Several people stepped up to help with the effort.
Brenda Jo Nanni of Holley knitted soap bar bags for each of the campers and gave them each a small toy in case they felt homesick. Someone also gave each camper a new pillow, pillowcase and travel kit.
Mackenzie Sullivan, a registered nurse and nursing supervisor from Orleans Community Health, donated her time as nurse to check medications before children left for camp to ensure all kids were set to go. Community Action also helped to sign up kids, scan documents, and provide facilities and direction.
Dirk Climenhaga, a staff member at Hoag Library in Albion, also helped sign up four children for the camp.
Szatkowski’s wife Sara, besides serving as a chaperone, checked medications and helped comfort kids who were homesick.
Szatkowski said the children gained confidence during the time away, overcoming some initial fears about being away from home. At the camp they went fishing, took swimming lessons, used a lower-ropes course, played Gaga ball, attended church and enjoyed other activities.
“The ride home was easy,” he said. “They all slept.”
The camp was free to the children who attended with some of the Red Kettle donations going towards the cost.
Szatkowski would like to double the number of children attending the camp next year from Orleans County. The most from the county is 41, which was about a decade ago.
“This place provides a safe, loving, and fun environment,” Szatkowski said. “They were happy. They loved it.”