’Prevention does not stop’: Operation UNITE to hold annual camp over Zoom

Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 7:01 PM EDT
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LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - Since 2007, Operation UNITE hosted Camp UNITE at the University of the Cumberlands. The camp has the underlying message of drug prevention and awareness.

“There’s not a middle school student in this state but particularly in Southeastern Kentucky that’s not been impacted in some way by the substance abuse issue,” said Nancy Hale, president CEO of Operation UNITE.

More than 2,500 middle school children have attended the camp in the last 13 years and many look forward to camp each year. Hale said canceling due to COVID-19 was not an option.

“Prevention doesn’t stop. Awareness does not stop and so we have to take it to a different venue and so we’ll be doing that virtually this year,” said Hale.

The camp will be held from July 21-23 on Zoom.

“All this tech stuff is a bit challenging but we’re all learning. We’ve learned from the beginning,” said Camp Director Lynnell Fields.

The camp is usually four days long and the kids spend the night on the college campus. This year, it will only be from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.

“We don’t want kids to be online for a whole long time listening to a speaker,” said Fields.

There will be a virtual version of the opening assembly each day, presentations, demonstrations of this year’s Camp Dance, and kids will choose three activity tracks.

“So far the top tracks have been the hair and makeup, the art and the outdoor skills. Those are our most popular tracks so far,” said Fields.

Kids will do one activity each day. There are nine choices including arts and crafts, basketball, dance, drama, hair and makeup, martial arts, outdoor skills, soccer and ultimate frisbee.

“They’ll be in breakouts sessions and we’ll be able to do that through Zoom. We’ll put them in separate rooms and then come back together at the end of the day for a final farewell,” said Fields.

Each camper will also receive a box with items for their activity track as well as a t-shirt and drug prevention materials.

“We want to send as much of camp as we can to them in a box,” said Fields.

This year’s theme is the same as last year’s: Stronger Together.

“Little did we know the impact those two words were going to have,” said Hale.

The camp will end with the traditional signing of the drug-free pledge.

To register for Camp UNITE click here. Registration ends on June 26.

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