This year’s KAMP (Kids And Motivated People) Dovetail kicked off Monday at Rocky Fork State Park and will continue until the Friday morning.
The weeklong summer camp for children with special needs is celebrating its 40th anniversary with Lego-themed events and has been dubbed “40 Years Of Loving Exceptionally Gifted Ones.”
An opening celebration was held on the first night of the camp that included Ohio Congressman Brad Wenstrup, Ohio state Rep. Shane Wilkin, Highland County Commissioner David Daniels, and officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The children were then treated to a dance with local band Blue Steel performing followed by a half-hour fireworks display.
“Except for being a little warm, it’s been a great two days so far,” said Linda Allen, the executive director of SATH (Supplemental Assistance to the Handicapped) that hosts and funds KAMP Dovetail.
In keeping with the Lego theme of the event, the campers participated in a scavenger hunt Tuesday night that led to a buried treasure with a Lego set that they will put together.
“For the last couple months everybody in five counties has been donating Legos, and we have thousands of Legos the kids have been building with,” said Allen.
A group of well-known Lego professionals will work with the campers Wednesday to create a display that will be sold at an auction that evening.
The auction will be KAMP Dovetail’s 13th annual Auction & Carnival at the Rocky Fork State Park Campground that the public is encouraged to enjy and be part of. Auction items will include sports memorabilia such as autographed items from Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Reds Rookie of the Year Jonathan India, along with homemade items from the community like quilts and baked goods.
Each day of activities includes horse riding, horse-drawn wagons rides, fishing, boating, arts and crafts, and much more.
Eight local school busses will take the children to see the movie “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” on Thursday. There will be a dance and closing ceremony that evening, and the children will depart the camp Friday at 9 a.m.
“We’re down a little bit this year in numbers because we’ve been off for two years,” said Allen.
Still, more than 250 campers and more than 300 volunteers are participating in the popular event. Allen said people from Adams, Clinton, Brown, Fayette and Highland counties comprise the bulk of the participants, but people have come from 33 counties and three states.
Kelly Jo Annon has been a part of KAMP Dovetail for 38 of its 40 years.
“She was a camper — a little girl in a wheelchair — who was our princess one of the first years,” said Allen. “Last night at the amphitheater, we crowned her as Queen of KAMP Dovetail after being here 38 years.”
After camping at KAMP Dovetail as I child, Annon eventually became a volunteer and then a staff member.
Allen has been working for the event for 34 years. She started as a fundraiser and then the camp’s founder and director, Doug Rudolph, asked her to take over from him the following year. “When I took it over there were 75 campers and 75 volunteers, and every year I’d add 25 or 50 until I got to a point when they said 350 is the max because we can’t accommodate any more down here,” said Allen.
The typical budget for the week of camp is around $80,000, and Allen said more than $100,000 was raised this year.
“We just want to thank the community because the support is overwhelming,” she said.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.