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Summer Camp Programs

Camp engages low-income children


Lisa Potts, food services coordinator and wife of Camp Gifford’s manager, Jeff Potts, said that the Salvation Army on Deer Lake hosts six camps for low-income children, foster children and others.

Camp Gifford ropes course
Action at the ropes course at Camp Gifford
photo from camp website:

Each week up to 120 seven to 11-year-olds from Washington, Idaho and Montana stay at Camp Gifford’s main camp, and 24 youth from 12 to 17 are at the wilderness camp, a mile away.  Most have never gone to a Salvation Army church.

The camps have chapel services, campfires, swimming, outdoor activities and other programs for the one-week sessions from June 29 to Aug. 3.

Half the staff are paid, including some from Australia.  Half are volunteers, some coming for six weeks, and some for three weeks.

Many campers come from low-income homes, from families on government assistance.  Some of their parents did not finish school.

“We encourage them to do well in school and graduate.  We want them to know the future is theirs if they learn to make positive choices based on biblical principles.  One negative choice, however, can affect their whole life,” Lisa said.  “We discourage abuse of drugs and alcohol, because that inhibits their futures.  Camp can help break generational cycles so children make good choices and stay in school,” she said.

She feels she has an important role in serving three meals a day and a snack.  “In the summer, some are lucky if they have one meal a day at home,” said Lisa, who introduces new foods.

If there is misbehavior, staff encourage change, call home and use contractual behavior management.  If there are no changes, parents must take the camper home for the sake of other campers.

Campers are not allowed to use electronics.  For safety, camp staff does luggage inspection when campers arrive.  Valuables, such as cameras, are stored in the office, accessible in free time.  Counselors, however, carry cell phones in waist packs, turned off, available in emergencies.

Camp Gifford waterfront
Camp Gifford waterfront
photo from website: ttp://

“There is so much going on at camp with a climbing wall and zipline, there is no problem when they don’t have their electronic devices,” she said.  “Campers quickly make friends.”

In the wilderness camp, some girls are upset that there is no place to plug in a curling iron, and they can take a shower only when they walk to the main camp three days in the week to swim.

The wilderness camp, which teaches campers no-trace camping, has outhouses.  Campers hike and do their own cooking. 

For information, call 233-2511;; or visit

Copyright © June 2015 - The Fig Tree