Volunteers, donors help create new kids camp in Willard

Published: May. 31, 2017 at 12:36 PM CDT
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Some of your best childhood memories may involve camping. Starting this summer, the Willard PAL and DARE programs hope to help kids create their own memories and teach them life lessons.

In the midst of woodland, volunteers are carving out a campground.

"Willard is a pretty tight knit community. One of my best friends is the one that did the grading over here, Scott Whitman, and Conco donated the rock and we just wanted to help out,” said William Textor, vice president of Advance Concrete Technology.

The plot owned by the City of Willard will be put to good use. At the end of June, the Willard Police Department will start hosting kids in the D.A.R.E and PAL programs on camping trips.

For many, the excursion will be a first.

“There are so many kids in the community that have never really had a close encounter with the outdoors and the fact is many of the fondest memories that I have are of camping events that occurred in my youth and the things that I learned,” said Police Chief Tom McClain.

It's those lessons that McClain wants to instill in today's youth. He started on that path nearly a decade ago in Willard with PAL, or the Police Athletic League. The program teaches kids not only the fundamentals in boxing but also the basics of good character.

“Discernment, responsibility, self-control, and honor,” said Glenn Cozzens, a PAL lead coach.

That mantra will now extend from the ring to the wilderness.

"I think the importance is getting them out here and getting law enforcement involved with the kids so that we can interact, and that's what the whole goal of PAL is, even nationwide not just right here, but especially for us,” said Cozzens.

This venture couldn't be possible without several businesses donating time, material and manpower -- a gift that will have an even greater impact.

"Impact that can change lives is right here, right now,” said McClain.

The first camping weekend starts on June 30.