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Giving locally is sure way to keep donation at home

May 29, 2011
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Oprah Winfrey's show is done, and I've never seen an episode.

Too late now. But she left Wednesday with the admonition that people should get involved, should make it their goal in life to help where help is needed.

That's what someone told me, anyway.

If this is the year you've decided to help people and projects who need help and you don't want your money ending up on some big-wig's desk in some other state, you can always get involved with the local Royal Family Kids Camp. That's a camp for foster children planned for July 30 to Aug. 5 at Camp Hantesa near Boone.

And everything you give to the camp stays right here with camp organizers to help children who have been abused and neglected and are now in the foster care system. The camp would cost nothing for the child, the foster family or even the social services system. But here's where the "but" comes in.

It will cost nothing, but volunteers are needed at the camp along with the funds to pay for the camp. Just because there's no cost to the camper doesn't mean there's no cost to the camp.

Deb Rohlfs, of Webster City, will be camp director for the week-long camp if it gets going. She attended a training session for the Royal Family Kids Camp idea to learn how to function within its guidelines. Kim Chase, of Fort Dodge, and Ray Hill, of Lohrville, took this training, too.

Hope Assembly of God Church in Fort Dodge is the nonprofit backer for the camp, but the Rev. Bob Henkelman said the camp isn't a church camp. It's a community camp for youngsters in Webster and Hamilton counties. As the backer, the church will receive donations, but anyone who would like to volunteer at the camp as counselor or in the kitchen or any place else that needs a worker may contact Rohlfs. Her number is 297-0441. The church address for donations is 200 Ave. O, Fort Dodge, IA 50501.

"If we don't get enough people who are willing to come and help, we won't be able to have it," Rohlfs said of the proposed camp. "If people see it as a good thing and volunteer to help, we'll be able to do it."

A lot of people, she said, likely don't understand what it is since this would be the first of its kind in the area. Des Moines is the only other city in Iowa to offer such a camp, and Sumner, in Bremer County, is trying to start one.

"It's a national program started 20 years ago," Rohlfs said. "It's well established. They have very strict rules about how it has to be done. They've had many years of experience and many campers through it."

Volunteers must pass a screening before they're accepted, she added.

Still, before they need volunteers, they need money to make the camp happen. They've got a start, with $3,000 in the bank, but need to raise at least $17,000 to make it happen.

"We're talking about a camp totally funded by gifts," Henkelman said. "We rent the camp for the week. The money is used for insurance, transportation, plus all the camp stuff. Even a birthday party for the kids. Most of them have never had a birthday party in their lives."

Next time you blow out the candles on your birthday cake and open another gift you really don't need, remember these youngsters. Help make their candles burn brightly.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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