By the time the first Camp Hope campers arrive in Barton County on Sunday, many hours of behind-the-scenes work will have already taken place. One service project comes from a young man who had never heard of Camp Hope, until he read a news article about a fire that threatened to spoil this year’s fun.
Camp Hope is for children who have, or have had, cancer. It is offered free of charge and is usually held at Barton Community College’s Camp Aldrich in June. But an April 12 fire destroyed the dining hall — along with some Camp Hope supplies stored at the site.
Tim Dobson of Wichita was working toward the rank of Eagle Scout, which requires a community service project. He contacted the Camp Hope committee of the Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation and asked how he could help.
Gail Moeder from the Camp Hope committee said camp staff depend on walkie talkies throughout the week, and the stand used for charging the batteries was not in good shape.
“We proposed that to him for a project an he took it on, and then some,” Moeder said. Tim and his father George Dobson came to Great Bend earlier this month to deliver the stand. It is complete with six power strips, providing the capability to charge up to 60 batteries at one time.
Dobson said he originally planned to do a project closer to his home.
“I was going to call the City of Wichita and see if there was a project I could do for them, but then I read about the fire and thought it would be better to help a group in need,” he said. “I have a friend who is a cancer survivor and I thought it would be cool to help out a group of kids who were going through what my friend went through.
“For the project, I started by figuring out what they had lost and what was needed and then working with my dad who is an engineer to design a new stand. I then went around to local hardware companies to ask for supply donations. After I got everything donated I recruited volunteers to help me build the stand and we built it, painted it, and then wired and set up the power strips for the chargers to plug into. We had a total of nine people working on it and we got it built and painted over two nights and then set up the power strips before we delivered the stand to Camp Hope.”
Camp Hope has been in Barton County for nearly 40 years. It was sponsored by the American Cancer Society until this year, when the nonprofit Kans for Kids agreed to step in.
The April 12 fire has shut down Camp Aldrich for the summer, but Camp Hope will still be held on the Barton Community College campus. Campers will stay in student housing. On Wednesday, kids will come to town for the annual Camp Hope golf tournament and scavenger hunt. Sponsors also plan to have a professional fireworks display at the college at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 19, weather permitting.
Camp for volunteers starts this Saturday, Moeder said. “We are expecting 62 campers and 94 volunteers. Things have come together very well on the campus of BCC and we are looking forward to another fun-filled year of Camp. The staff of BCC has gone above and beyond to make sure that this week will be special for the kids!”