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America Supports You: Camp Donates Slots to Military Children

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2005 – Camp Island Lake, a summer camp for kids in Starrucca, Pa., is giving away 30 free spaces this summer to children of military personnel who have served overseas since Sept. 11, 2001.

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Camp Island Lake, a summer camp for kids, in Starrucca, Pa., is giving away 30 free spaces this summer to children of military personnel who have served overseas since Sept. 11, 2001. The camp is located in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

The program has been dubbed "Operation Thank You." The free slots will be offered during the camp's 3rd session, which runs from Aug. 3 to Aug. 16 and normally costs $2,100 per child.

"We are doing this as a way of saying thank you to those who risk their lives in defense of our country and our way of life," said camp director Matt Stoltz. "These people and their families have been asked to make inordinate sacrifices as a result of the terrorist attacks on our nation, and we feel it is our obligation to thank them."

Matt said he hopes the camp gives the military children a carefree couple of weeks so they can forget about the perils that their parents face in fighting the war on terrorism.

Camp Island Lake was founded in 1986 by Matt's mother and father, Bev and Mike Stoltz, and continues as a family-owned operation. Matt and his sister Wendy both joined the family business on a full-time basis after they graduated from college, Matt said.

According to the camp's Web site, Bev and Mike have more than 40 years of experience working with children as teachers and supervisors.

The camp is located in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania. It sits on 550 acres of property that includes two large lakes where waterskiing and other boating activities are readily available.

The Stoltzes refer to Island Lake as a nontraditional camp where the children choose all of their own activities. Campers have six one-hour activity periods per day, which gives them an opportunity to experience a large variety of activities, Matt said.

For instance, campers can play sports, perform in a circus, or take part in theatre, music or dance productions. The kids can also ride horses or skateboard in the camp's own skate park.

The camp's equestrian center has 24 horses and an outdoor riding ring. There are also numerous riding trails throughout the grounds.

The 20,400-square-foot athletic center includes ball fields, volleyball courts, an archery center, a hockey rink, a mountain-biking center, a batting cage, basketball courts, a gymnastics center, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and an 18-hole disc golf course.

The camp even offers tutoring in a variety of subjects at no cost, and older kids can take a Stanley Kaplan SAT study course, Matt said.

The Stoltz family wants servicemembers to realize that many Americans across the country appreciate what they are doing, Matt said.

"We want military folks to know that our thoughts are with them and that their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed," Matt said.

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Related Sites:
Camp Island Lake
America Supports You

Click photo for screen-resolution imageWendy, Bev, Mike and Matt Stoltz operate Camp Island Lake in Starrucca, Pa. The summer camp is giving away 30 free spaces this summer to children of military personnel who have served overseas since Sept. 11, 2001. Courtesy photo  
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