Hiking in the woods, making crafts, singing songs by the campfire - some of our fondest childhood memories come from summer camp.

For the neediest children in Omaha these simple joys seem unattainable. These at-risk kids may otherwise spend their summer wandering the streets or hanging out with other idle kids.

The Salvation Army can help struggling local families avoid this outcome for their children. Last year in the United States, thousands of children attended some 48 Salvation Army residential camps. "It's an experience not to be missed," observes Omaha Salvation Army Captain Scott Shelbourn, Divisional Youth Secretary and Camp Administrator. "Time spent at camp can be a life-changing experience for kids. It can instill feelings of self-worth, open up the world and offer hope for the future.”  The Salvation Army’s Gene Eppley Camp and Retreat is located at 915 Allied Road in Bellevue, Neb.

Shelbourn reports that last summer the citizens of Omaha gave this precious gift to 246 local children, some of whom had never in their lives experienced being in a safe, loving environment 24 hours a day. Through these donations, underprivileged Omaha kids got to go to a weeklong camp where they learned archery, played sports, swam, explored the outdoors, went boating and made crafts.  And beyond the recreation, with the help of trained counselors they learned how to live together with a diverse group of neighbors, dealing with the troubling issues and concerns that challenge them in their daily lives.    

Shelbourn is currently seeking sponsorship for 125 children for summer camp 2013. "School will be ending soon," he points out. "There are lots of spots left and not enough money to fill them. I hope the community will come through for these deserving kids. For many of them, it's the highlight of the whole year."   

To donate to The Salvation Army, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or make a donation online at  For more information on Camp Eppley visit