The Millville Volunteer Group will be out at Camp Barnes this weekend, along with a number of other volunteer organizations. They will be doing needed repairs and maintenance, including painting and cleaning of the grounds, according to the MillVols’ Linda Kent.
“We sat down with Shawn and Debbie,” she said of Cpl. Shawn Hatfield of the Delaware State Police, director of Camp Barnes, and Millville Town Manager Debbie Botchie, “in January, after I became head of the volunteer group,” said Kent. “We talked about things that they needed.”
She said that, in addition to the repairs and cleaning, money they receive from outside donations — including a “big jar” fundraiser at their farmer’s market this season and from restaurants giving a portion of proceeds this fall — will go to Camp Barnes for the purchase of new mattresses for the bunks.
Kent added that they went to Camp Barnes last year to help with cleaning and noticed they could use some updating and, as a group, they wanted to take on causes and do work in the community.
“We decided that this year we would focus on Camp Barnes,” she explained, saying they have about 23 volunteers in their group. “It is an important camp for kids from all over the state.”
Hatfield said the assistance they have received already and will receive this weekend from the Millville Volunteer Group is “huge.”
“I don’t think they even understand how much a help it is to us,” he said. “To give up their Saturday and help... Camp Barnes is run by the state police, but, besides my salary, we don’t put money into it. That all comes from donations and fundraisers.”
He said the group said been “so good to me” since he took charge. This is his third summer as the camp’s director.
“Anytime I have needed anything, I ask them and they are there. It’s unbelievable. You name it, they have done it.”
He said Camp Barnes Inc. is run by the Delaware State Police, which staffs it and hire all the counselors and nurses each summer. It is a camp for children ages 10 to 13 and is free to any resident of Delaware, in addition to the many uses it gets from churches and civic organizations during the summer.
“Applications become available March 31. And 4-H starts the season there in the beginning of June, and the camp will run to the end of August” said Hatfield.
He said the camp started as a camp for disadvantaged kids and kids involved in juvenile delinquency, but it has evolved over the years to include any Delaware resident ages 10 to 13.
“We get all kinds of kids from all over the state,” he said, “from inner city Wilmington to Gumboro.”
That is in addition to the camp hosting the Special Olympics, the Delaware Burn Camp, Wilmington Parks and Recreation, 4-H and “multiple other civic and church groups.”
According to their Web site, during summer camp, Camp Barnes is staffed by 12 counselors, two cooks, a kitchen assistant and a nurse. All counselors are required to have a criminal background check prior to working at the camp, and there is a state trooper and a nurse on the grounds at all times while the camp is in session.
At no charge to the camper, during their stay at Camp Barnes, kids get to enjoy swimming in an Olympic-size pool, kayaking in Miller’s Creek, archery, crabbing and fishing, arts and crafts, a nature walk, basketball, soccer and a talent show.
For more information, visit campbarnes.net.