Jimmy Lee Wages remembers going to Madison County’s Camp Maranatha as a kid and enjoying the summer days of horse riding, swimming and games with other children.
The 210-acre camp on Floyd Road off Hwy. 98 has always had a special feel for the Madison County native.
“I think of camp as a refuge,” said Wages, who now serves as the camp’s assistant director, and whose mother, Linda, has long volunteered as a cook and head of the kitchen. “For me, it’s always been a steady, stable place, a place that I can come back to.”
That notion of “refuge” is integral to the camp, which opened in 1961 with the aim of providing kids, particularly those in need, with a memory-making — and free — week-long experience in the summer.
Every year, about 700-to-900 children ages 9 to 13 spend a week at the campgrounds. They must check their phones, videogame players and other assorted gadgets at the door. The week is intended for outdoor activities and face-to-face interactions, free of technology’s distractions.
The weeks of the camp are split up by age and gender. For instance, one week there will be
“junior” girls, ages 9-through-11-year old. The next week will be “junior boys.”
Camp director Wade Dixon said the camp focuses on providing a fun and loving environment for all children who attend. But there’s a special attempt made to bring kids in who might be struggling. Dixon said the aim is to bring in six children who may be deemed “at risk” or in need for every four children who come from more stable environments.
Camp Maranatha provides both boys and girls ages 9 to 13 a week of summer fun and camaraderie in a Christian-based camp.
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