Camp Phoenix on Lake Sardis in Como, Miss., is changing lives of kids in Memphis - from swimming, canoeing, archery, and camp fires.
It's a sleep away camp for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis, but it depends on donations to keep running.
For many of the Boys & Girls Club kids, Camp Phoenix is their first experience in the great outdoors. For many. it's their first experience outside of Memphis. Every summer, the experience changes hundreds of lives.
But for kids living in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Memphis, the experience would not be possible without Camp Phoenix.
"It opened my eyes to a different lifestyle, and showed me a more positive way of living," said Darrielle Garrison, who started going to Camp Phoenix at the age of 8,
After years as a camper, Garrison became a junior counselor, a kitchen worker, and is now a counselor. His campers call him Super Dee.
Garrison, who will graduate from Fisk University in 2013, calls it the greatest program offered by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis.
"It gets kids in Memphis out of the streets and takes them out of Memphis to a place they can feel safe, and don't have to worry about the troubles or problems of the neighborhood," Garrison said, who credits the camp for molding him into who he is today.
"I wouldn't be the same person without the Boys & Girls Club of Memphis," he said. "They took me from a shy vulnerable boy to a great man. I take my challenges as experiences."
But the camp is run entirely on donations, and depends on fundraisers like "Raise The Steaks," a yearly Phoenix Club fundraiser that helps keep the camp going.
Each week over the summer, a different club goes to the camp. The yearly budget is about $125,000.
"It costs probably $250 a week to send a kid to camp, and they only pay $10 for paperwork," said David Keigan of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis. "So it's very important to have fundraisers like this."
For Garrison, the camp changed his life. He's studying sports management, but says he's being called to service.
"I've thought about becoming a program director of a camp myself because the kids inspire me," he said. "It's my passion, it's what I like to do."
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