COVINGTON — Hundreds of kids ages 10 to 16 learn how to safely shoot, fish, ride horses and cook outdoors, among other skills, every summer during the FFA-FCCLA Centers’ Wildlife and Horse camps.
But they’re also learning so much more, according to Director of Development and Leadership Todd Teasley.
“That’s our bait,” Teasley said, referring to the outdoor activities. “Our real goal is to change the lives of kids by teaching character traits such as responsibility, respect and integrity.”
Though the $300 cost of the camps is an “extreme value for what they get compared to other camps across the country that are doing something similar,” Teasley said, there are families who can’t afford to send their children. So the FFA-FCCLA Center has scholarships and partial scholarships available each year to help those families. The largest fundraiser to benefit the scholarship fund is the annual Wildlife Camp Banquet, slated this year for Saturday, March 9, at the old Walmart located in Martin’s Crossing Shopping Center at 9128 U.S. Highway 278 in Covington. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the banquet starts at 5:30 p.m. The event includes a smoked pork chop dinner, along with a silent and live auction, raffles and games and activities for kids.
Auction and raffle prizes will include guns, a freezer full of meat and a gun safe filled with secret prizes. Teasley said there usually are signed sports memorabilia and items for ladies, too. There will be a 25-gun raffle; participants will buy tickets and when a name is drawn, the winner can pick his or her choice from the entire selection.
This year, due to changing laws governing firearms, Teasley said winners will not be issued guns the night of the banquet, except for those who have a federally issued Weapons Carry License. Guns must be picked up directly from the dealer, Social Circle Ace Hardware. Guns won by out-of-town residents can be shipped to a local dealer for pickup.
Tickets are $25 for regular admission and sponsorships are available starting at $200 and going up to $2,000. Dinner and a T-shirt or hat are included with every ticket.
Last year’s event drew nearly 900 people and raised $43,000, Teasley said, adding that this year’s goals are for 1,000 in attendance and $50,000 raised. Approximately 130, or about one-third, of the kids who attend the summer camps receive financial assistance.
“I’d like to thank the community in advance because our community is backing this so big,” Teasley said. “It’s unreal, the volunteers that we have and the business support. I don’t hardly go anywhere without people asking me about it and wanting to help me with it.”
To purchase tickets, call Beverly Stahl at 770-786-6926, ext. 3, or email BStahl@GaAgEd.org. Volunteers are also needed to donate items for the auctions and raffles, sponsor a gun for the gun raffle, help with the banquet and help during the camps.
For more information about the camps, visit www.WildlifeCamp.com and wwww.FFAHorseCamp.com.