Operation UNITE comes to Whitley County for their Camp UNITE week

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Operation UNITE is having their annual Camp UNITE in Whitley County at the University of the Cumberlands.

Operation UNITE serves 32 counties in south and eastern Kentucky, helping students prevent and fight substance abuse in Kentucky.

Camp kids have to be in 7th, 8th, or 9th grade, but they can volunteer as high school or college students to be team leaders. Several of the team leaders were UNITE kids themselves when they were younger, even earning scholarships through UNITE.

UNITE staff say the experiences the students gain through UNITE impacts not just the student, but the community around them as well.

"I always seen students around me in my area struggle with the decision to live a drug-free lifestyle. So I, myself, have seen my family in stuff like that. So I came here and I was wondering if anything like that would help me. It did and so I went back and made an impact within my own house and then in my community," says Austin Smith "I Am UNITE" scholar and camp leader.

Other UNITE leaders say it is watching the enjoyment children get through the week, and open up that keeps them coming back every year to help out.

"It is really amazing to watch a kid transform in a week. You don't think that like, having them for one week that they are going to make this huge transformation. But, really some of them are really night and day different by the end of camp," says Operation UNITE Intern Frankie Baldwin.

While Camp UNITE does do a lot of fun activities with kids like taking them to Hal Roger's Kentucky Splash Waterpark and having a dance, there is a lot of volunteer work done by UNITE as well.

Some of the volunteer work the kids will be doing in the area through camp are: making veterans cards, washing cars for first responders, and making "hope bags" for patients in treatment at Markey Cancer Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

Camp UNITE goes until Friday and students will stay at the University of the Cumberlands through the week.

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