By Johnny Jackson

Cameron Daniels is a swift-footed 8-year-old.

Several of Daniels' friends made note of her speed Wednesday, during a game of "Duck, Duck, Goose" at Shiloh Baptist Church's annual summer camp, known as "Camp Shiloh."

"I like the exercise," said Daniels.

The camp, held at the church's educational center near the McDonough Square, is Shiloh's third summer camp, according to Sharon Zellner, campsite director at Shiloh.

"Our main focus is to ensure that our children are focused and enriched socially and academically," Zellner said.

Throughout the summer, as many as 80 Shiloh campers will have the opportunity to visit area museums and parks, Zellner said. She said most of the day is spent in the academic world.

Campers, she said, study reading, math, science, social studies, and life skills with church volunteers who are also certified teachers.

"When they go back to school, they would not have lost what they've learned during the school year," Zellner added.

"The value is that you don't lose the knowledge that you gain," said Tadzy Hall, a camp counselor. "So many students don't study or read during the summer, and have to spend so much time when they go back to school reviewing what they learned the previous year."

The 18-year-old, who graduated Friday from Eagle's Landing High School, has worked as a camp counselor for the past two years at Shiloh.

"I always saw the summer camp as a way for children to go somewhere and stay out of trouble," Hall said. "I think they really see it as a place to hang out and have fun. I think they appreciate it."

Shiloh's summer camp began Monday and will last through July 31, Monday through Friday, with the exception of July 3, according to camp administrators.

Campers tend to gain a sense of what is right and wrong through their interactions with each other at the church, said Doug Cloud, a camp volunteer.

Cloud retired in October from the Department of Corrections after 36 years. He said that over those years, he saw many young people who could have benefited from a summer camp such as Shiloh's.

"I think it gives the kids an opportunity to have structured activity in a safe environment," Cloud said. "Whatever is done here at this church is spiritually grounded. Over the years, I saw so many young people in prison, and going to prison, and I attribute a lot of it to them not having good role models and activities to keep them productive in the summer."

Camp Shiloh begins each day with an optional pre-camp, at no extra charge, from 7 to 9 a.m. Camp gets under way at 9 a.m., continuing until 4 p.m. Post-camp, from 4 to 6 p.m., each day, is also free of charge.

The camp, Zellner said, is $65 each week with multiple-children discounts. Tuition helps pay for the camp's breakfast, lunch, and snack offerings.

Shiloh's annual vacation Bible school, June 8-12, will be free of charge and is expected to involve more than 200 children, in addition to the church's summer camp.

"Vacation Bible school provides kids an opportunity to learn about Christ and the church - teaching kids about how to treat each other and lead a good life," Cloud said. "This is nothing new. The scale is just larger now."


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