The Oscar Jackson camp, put on by the City of Bainbridge, gives kids a chance to put the phones and the video games down and learn about nature and the great outdoors. The camp aims to teach kids about the abundance of natural resources that we have in Southwest Georgia. This week Alyson and I had the opportunity to sit down with Megan Wimberly, the special event coordinator for the Bainbridge, who oversees the camp.
The program takes place over one week and is put on four times each summer. Each week the kids get to learn so much about nature and the environment. Mrs. Wimberly took us through each day of the camp. Monday the kids take a course on boating safety. The kids learn about how to be safe on the water and how to drive a boat! As a bonus, the kids can get their boating license once they turn 12 because the course counts as the required boater safety course. The second day of the camp, the kids visit the Bainbridge Public Safety firing range where they get to shoot some of the weapons used by the police and get to see how the police are trained in high pressure situations. On Wednesday, the kids visit Southwind Plantation to learn about quail hunting and get to see the hunting dogs in action. Thursday takes the kids on a canoe trip down Spring Creek. Wimberly says that is her favorite day, and she personally leads the campers down the creek. Halfway through, the group stops for a cookout on the bank of the creek and they have a blast in the water. The final day, Friday, the campers are taught how to fish by local fishing legend, Pam Martin Wells. While these are the main events of each day, there are plenty of other activities for the kids to do including: learning how to build a fire, working on crafts, archery, and fishing.
This year the camp Director is Maci Barber, a senior at UGA. Her Assistant Directors are Rendi Harrison and Sarah Hobby. The camp Coordinator is Mark Loeffler. Overall there are 16 members of the staff working to give the kids an action and learning pact weekend. Both the kids and the councilors must give up their phones while at the camp. This helps them fully focus on nature and not have any distractions. Wimberly says that the kids have such a blast, they don’t even think about their phones.
Kids aged 7-13 can go to the camp up to all 4 weeks that are offered. “We see kids coming back again because they just had so much fun the first week”, Mrs. Wimberly says with a smile on her face. In 2013 the Bainbridge Rec. Authority started the camp, and the city of Bainbridge took over the camp in 2016. Prior to 2016 the camp was titled the Jack Wingate Camp but was renamed in honor of Oscar Jackson when the city took over the camp. Mr. Jackson was conservationist and local nature hero. He helped represent Georgia in the infamous tri-state “water wars”. He served on the Governor’s Advisory Committee on water issues and fought to conserve the natural resources of the Southwest Georgia. The camp is hosted on Mr. Jackson’s property.
It’s not too late to sign up for any of the upcoming weeks of the camp. Each week up to 30 kids can sign up. Click here to get more information!
— Ryan Whitaker, Author