Unite Sussex offers free camp and food to area kids

Unite Sussex, a non-profit organization formed to help bring aid to the community through volunteerism and collaboration, and headed by the Rev. Kim Tephabock of Dagsboro Church of God, recently created a free youth camp for children in Frankford and the surrounding areas.

Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Children enjoy some play time during Unite Sussex’s free youth camp in Frankford.Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark
Children enjoy some play time during Unite Sussex’s free youth camp in Frankford.

“It’s a hybrid of a summer food program and a recreation program and an education program,” explained Tephabock. “It was kind of hatched out of some collaboration with Unite Sussex’s board and also with an ear to the ground in the community about the educational system of schools and the need for summer food programs in the area and, of course, something for our kids to do in the summer.”

The camp is held at the Frankford town park each week, Mondays through Thursdays, from 8:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. It began in late June and will end Aug. 11. Parents may register their children for free, and kids are not required to attend every day.

Currently, more than 90 children are enrolled, ages 6-13, and in the first week of operation 440 meals were served. The camp provides free breakfast and lunch, as well as recreational activities.

“After breakfast they’ll rotate between recreational and educational activities. They do get some downtime. It’s not all orchestrated. Summer camp is swinging on swings or hanging out with friends and talking. The recreational activities are ballgames, soccer, volleyball and baseball. Last week we did a slip-and-slide… It’s a good variety.”

Tephabock said there would also be a focus on educational activities, as well.

“We want to help them with their educational goals and our school district with its educational goals. We like to continue to support Frankford and surrounding areas, and we hope that this camp can inspire other areas to think about doing the same thing.”

As it is a free camp, it relies heavily on private donations, with meals provided by the Delaware Food Bank, and volunteerism.

“We do see some need for volunteerism in the coming weeks, but we’ve had helpers from churches in the community, helpers from other organizations in the community. I think so far, so good. I hope the community doesn’t forget about us, get weary of well-doing.”

Tephabock noted that they are always looking for willing volunteers. He added that 25 students and leaders volunteered for the camp from West Mont Christian Academy, a school in Pennsylvania.

“They were here for a couple of days, and some of the kids from that group loved doing it and loved the kids in the camp so much that four of them came back for two days on their own. They drove all the way from Pennsylvania, got up at four o’clock in the morning, all the way here and volunteered. They’re basically teenagers who volunteered to help out with our recreation program. It was awesome seeing these kids being giving of their time, came down here and made a difference.”

So far, US Camp has been a successful endeavor for Unite Sussex, and Tephabock hopes that similar camps will be formed in the coming years to aid other area children.

“My hopes for US Camp is that we can make a positive impact on these kids lives. It’s been worth it all, just to see some of these kids, some of them come from some pretty tough places and to see them kind of trust and walls coming down, between themselves and between them and the volunteers, has been an awesome experience. I’d do it again.”

Tephabock added that Unite Sussex is grateful for all the community support throughout all of their work and hopes the partnership will continue to thrive.

“I am really proud of the community for the way it cares for itself. These are tough times, but that’s what caused Unite Sussex to be born — tough times. We’re stepping up to the plate when there is something missing in the community and trying to fill that gap, and we just want to say ‘thank you’ to the community for the opportunity to serve it and for all those who have a heart to join with us and take care of our kids, serving shoulder by shoulder, like a community should.”

For more information on US Camp, visitwww.unitesussex.org or call (302) 732-6550.