Campers enjoy tech-free time

05/15/2010 12:00 AM

05/15/2010 6:38 AM

Before her daughter Jahrobia Lamont headed to camp for the first time last year, mom Agibiké Nrobia had one specific instruction regarding packing:

No MP3 player.

"You're going to leave it right on the bed," Nrobia told her daughter.

Jahrobia, 11, says she's glad she listened, "instead of being on the phone all the time, messing with electronics."

She spent her week at Camp Walter Johnson, a residential camp in Denton run by the Salvation Army, swimming, enjoying the German, Italian, and Chinese foods prepared by staff, and socializing.

"We got the phones out of the way, computers out of the way, and got to know each other."

Jahrobia and Corey Forte, who is 12 and a fellow member of the Boys and Girls Club at Boulevard Homes, are heading back to the outdoor camp this summer thanks to The Summer Camp Fund.

An initiative by The Charlotte Observer and Partners in Out-of-School Time, the fund provides scholarships for children from low-income families throughout the region to attend outdoor camps. The idea is to get children away from the city to the outdoors for safe and structured activities. Readers are asked to contribute to the fund.

Corey, too, gives a thumbs up to Camp Walter Johnson. He has many reasons he's looking forward to returning to the camp that's about a 75-minute drive northeast of Charlotte.

"What I like about it is the pool time. How it's cold in the cabins when it's hot outside. The counselors. Oh, yeah, and all the friends you can make."

Nrobia, a program aide at the Boys and Girls Club, says the outdoor time is a special opportunity for kids, especially those who spend a lot of time inside with school and extra-curricular activities.

"When you're able to see other things ... it makes you less afraid of the world around you," Nrobia said.

"It gives them the avenue to dream."

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