Details about improvements at YMCA Camp Wakonda, near Halltown, were shared at this week's meeting of the Monett Kiwanis Club. Kent Childs, a volunteer, and Gordon Brown, executive director of the Monett Area YMCA, presented the program.
Childs, the owner of 22 Midas Muffler dealerships in several states, recounted how he became a volunteer for the YMCA. Growing up in a single-parent family, Childs had the opportunity to attend a YMCA camp on a scholarship. He later became a camp counselor and then a program director.
In recent years, Childs has volunteered to drive to the camp and contributes to annual improvement efforts. A work day is held at Camp Wakonda each Labor Day.
Camp Wakonda opened in 1953. In recent years, projects have been undertaken to give the camp more modern facilities. A climbing tower for the swimming pool was added two years ago. All but $30,000 has been raised to build a new $350,000 pool house that will have shower houses capable of serving 130 people.
Brown said he too became involved with the YMCA because of summer camp. When his father was transferred to Detroit, a school program let all the seventh graders go to the YMCA camp, an experience that proved meaningful.
Camps offer a number of advantages, Brown continued. Despite differing economic backgrounds, campers are all the same to each other.
Campers share a common experience, learn teamwork and having fun. Camp teaches self esteem, setting goals, self-confidence and honesty. Many call camp one of the best experiences of their summer.
Brown ran a camp in North Dakota where 3,000 young people attended every summer. The work in camps led to his career as a YMCA administrator.
Many young people from southwest Missouri go to YMCA camps, Brown continued. Sixty from Monett High School attend each year. YMCA camp is open to all children, despite their economic background.
Camp Wakonda offers varied resources, from a zipline and rappelling tower to a practice range for both BB guns and archery. Organized activities include a carnival day, Amazon-venture training, swimming and climbing the rope concourse. Located on 88 acres, the camp currently serves about 300 young people.
Staff working at the camp must be at least 18 years old and trained in a progression of skills. Those attending mostly come from southwest Missouri, though some come from as far away as Kansas City.
Brown served as program chairman and presided at the meeting. Scott Pennington, the Kiwanis lieutenant governor from Neosho, also attended.
The Monett Kiwanis Club meets at noon on Tuesdays for a program and a meal, usually at Happy House restaurant.