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Rotary award sends 20 fifth-graders to camp

Chosen for their leadership, the kids will spend a week at both the YMCA and Museum of Science and Industry.

Summer can't come soon enough for 20 children who have received an unexpected chance to go to camp.

"They are asking me every day, "When are we going?' " said Harriett Davis, guidance counselor at Mort Elementary School, whose students mostly come from low-income homes. "None of them have gone to this kind of summer camp before."

Next Tuesday, the New Tampa Rotary Club will present the 20 fifth-graders with tuition awards for weeklong summer camps at the New Tampa Family YMCA and the Museum of Science and Industry. Worth $7,500, the awards also will pay for the childrens' meals and travel to the programs.

Rotary president Kim Cole said the organization realized there was little help for low-income families to help pay for summer camps. Its members also wanted to open the eyes of children who have fewer opportunities than those who come from higher-income families.

"During the summer, they have nothing to do," Cole said. "We wanted to give them some experiences to keep them out of trouble and off the streets."

The children will attend the weekday camps July 10-21. A bus will pick them up each day at University Community Park and return them each evening.

At the YMCA, the children will swim, play soccer, volleyball and flag football, take character lessons, and make arts and crafts, Davis said. At the museum, the children will learn about rocket science, roller coaster physics and sports coordination.

"These are children who have good abilities," Davis said. "They're excited about doing things. They want to be a part of something."

Teachers chose the children based on their grades, leadership and citizenship.

Mort principal Darlene Choe said she believes the children will not only have fun and learn at the two camps, they also will benefit from making new friends.

"I'm excited about the children having this opportunity," she said. "I appreciate the New Tampa Rotary giving it to us."

_ Melanie Ave can be reached at (813)226-3473 or melaniesptimes.com.

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