Each year thousands of children from Pennsylvania and Delaware retreat to the Salvation Army owned Camp Ladore in Waymart to experience a five day long vacation full of activities and religious education. From June through August the camp entertains 400 children between the ages of seven and 12.

On June 19 to 24, kids from Bradford, Sullivan and nine other counties will trek to the mountainous 1,200 acre property that surrounds a 265 acre lake. During their stay at Camp Ladore, children will enjoy swimming facilities, a lakeside waterfront, boating, hiking trails, an animal farm, rope challenge courses, arts and crafts and numerous athletic fields and basketball courts.

The integrated Christian education program provides opportunities for spiritual decision and growth, allowing the Salvation Army to serve the physical, social and spiritual needs of campers.

All activities are age and gender tailored to allow each child to fully appreciate what the camp has to offer.

Currently 107 spots are available for children from the aforementioned 11 counties in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Salvation Army Service Extension Regional Manager Betty Ellen Barrett, who was in the area to conduct the Army's monthly volunteer meeting Thursday afternoon at the Villa Sena, said that she anticipates approximately 30 children from Bradford County to attend, along with two or three from Sullivan County.

The vacation is offered at no cost to parents, with transportation, lodging, and food included in the trip.

According to Barrett, the amount of children that return to the camp each year is indicative to how successful the camp is in its mission.

"From what I have seen, about 95 percent of kids either go back to the camp, or want to," she said.

Barrett said that she often hears children saying things along the lines of, "I went to church and learned about Jesus … and it wasn't boring!"

For many of the children attending, this is their first exposure to the teachings of the Bible, Barrett noted. She also expressed a need for follow up with children returning home from camp, giving a chance for local churches to extend services to them, an initiative which will be looked at more seriously this year.

Barrett, who visits the camp on opening day and at the end of the vacation, says she clearly sees a "change for the better" in camp participants.

"I've seen siblings who are fighting at the beginning of the week now talking about how much fun they had on the last day," she said.

This, she says, is what Camp Ladore is about; promoting positive change in children.

Children are transported to the camp by charter bus, one leaving from the Kmart in Wysox and another from Troy.

Parents interested in sending their children are asked to contact the Towanda Service Unit at (570) 265-5932.

The eligibility to participate in the adventure is based on "demonstrated need," Barrett said.

If interested in helping with the project, Barrett says volunteers and donors are needed for the trip.

Chaperones are needed for the bus rides to and from Camp Ladore on June 19 and June 24. All chaperones will be required to undergo a background check to ensure child safety.

If interested in donating, youth Bibles are needed as each of the children attending camp will receive one. Bibles may be dropped off at the Towanda Service Extension Unit at 218 Main St. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday or Thursday.

Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; or email: tzyla@thedailyreview.com.