Young scouts from Clarke and Jefferson County gathered for a four-night Twilight Camp at the Ruritan Fairgrounds in Berryville, Virginia on Monday. The camp is designed to provide the young scouts with a taste of camping without all of the planning work required for an overnight trip.
It also promises to be tons of fun.
“The kids are all going to have a blast this week” said Twilight Camp director Sandy Kovach. Kovach and assistant director Diane Breen, both from neighboring Jefferson County, West Virginia, will oversee four evenings filled with activities like geo-caching, a climbing wall, campfire sing-alongs and water war-games.
Kovach, who has led the camp for the last five years, said that having a camp where young scouts can experience all of the fun of being at camp but without the trauma of being away from home overnight is a good way to introduce young campers to the camping experience.
“Twilight Camp is for scouts from six years to twelve years of age” Kovach said. “We camp from 5:30pm until 8:30pm Monday through Thursday. It’s the best of both worlds in some ways. You get to have the fun of being in camp but still sleep in your own bed at the end of the night.”
Because the local scouting district includes both Jefferson County, West Virginia and Clarke County, Virginia, Kovach alternates the camp site between the two locations every year to decrease drive time for parents.
Kovach said that the cost of conducting the camp, approximately $3,000, is funded in part by the local Manna-ho Boy Scout district and from fund raising activities by the scouts who want to participate in the Twilight Camp.
“We make sure that every scout who wants to attend the camp has the opportunity to be here” Kovach said. “I feel strongly that every Cub Scout deserves the chance to have a camp experience.”
Planning enough food and activities to occupy 65 Cub Scouts is no minor task according to Kovach. The mother of two of her own scouts says that each year she devotes nearly 80 hours to planning the annual camp-out.
“We’ll start planning next year’s Twilight Camp the week after we finish this year’s camp” Kovach said.
Clearly the dedication and effort necessary to pull off the event isn’t lost on the young campers or their parents.
“I think that it’s going to be great!” said Boyce Elementary 5th grader Cameron MacKay-Smith. Nearby, Cameron’s father, Seth, concurred.
“It sounded like there were a lot of good activities being offered” the elder MacKay-Smith said. “We thought that this would be a nice way for Cameron to have a little fun at the end of his summer.”
Sandy Kovach said that her goal is to provide both a fun camping experience and at the same time impart scouting’s core values onto the campers under her charge.
“Scouting is a passion for me because of the way it teaches values and community service“ Kovach said. “In addition to doing fun things like a water battle between the scouts and the fire department, the kids will also learn manners like how to introduce yourself to someone.”
Kovach said that each scout has the chance to earn a “Good Manners” belt loop and shirt pin.
Kovach said that the theme for this year’s Twilight Camp is “Underwater”. She explained that several years ago, when the camp was held in Jefferson County, the young campers expressed a strong desire to include swimming in the camping activities. Unfortunately Jefferson County doesn’t have a community pool so Kovach decided to invite the local fire company to offer a little water entertainment for the campers.
“Before it was all over the firefighters had dumped thousands of gallons of water on the boys” Kovach laughed. “The boys fired back with squirt guns. I’m not sure who had more fun, the scouts or the firefighters.”
In continuance of the water-fun tradition, Kovach has arranged for Enders Fire Company volunteers to engage in a water battle with the scouts later in the week. With temperatures expected to remain in the 90’s, the water battle can’t come soon enough for at least one camper.
“I really love getting soaked!” said Isaac Kessler, a nine year scout from Shepherdstown, West Virginia. “I can’t wait!”