Building a camp facility for children and adults with special needs.
Questions & Answers
What is Mississippi's Toughest Kids Foundation?
MTK is a 501(c)(3) charity with the single purpose of building and maintaining in Mississippi a camp facility, Camp Kamassa, to be used exclusively by children (and adults) with serious illnesses, physical and mental challenges, and other special needs. The camp will operate as a partner camp.
Where did we get the word Kamassa?
The camp will be located in Copiah County which is a Choctaw word meaning Calling Panther. With that in mind we called the Choctaw’s in north MS and asked for a word that meant “tough, persevere under difficulties, not give up” and were told Kamassa. This certainly describes our campers!
What is a partner camp?
Groups now holding camps in Mississippi (partner camps) will simply be invited to move their campers, volunteer counselors and medical team to our facility, that has been designed for them and is used solely by them.
Who comes to Camp Kamassa?
It is our desire that through the years this camp be used by thousands of campers with various illnesses, disabilities and challenges including, but not limited to: asthma, spina bifida, cancer, HIV, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, brain injuries, hemophilia, Tourette syndrome, autism, transplant recipients, kids in foster care, arthritis, visual and hearing impairments, developmental disabilities, bereavement, sickle cell disease, thalassemia, Celiac disease, Crohn's and colitis, and more! It is our plan that as these kids become adults an adult camp will be available for them as well. We can also envision senior adults and schools using the camp for day trips. OUR FACILITY WILL ONLY BE LIMITED BY OUR IMAGINATION, AND YOURS.
Our goal is to see Camp Kamassa used year round through a full summer of activities, fall, winter and spring weekend retreats and day visits.
What about the medical needs of the campers?
The camp will have a state-of-the-art infirmary with sleeping areas for nurses and doctors, treatment rooms, examination rooms, isolation rooms, safe places to store medical supplies, and a room large enough for specific treatments such as kidney dialysis. The benefit of a partner camp is that each partner will bring with them to camp nurses and doctors who already know the campers and their medical needs.
Why do we need such a camp in Mississippi?
Mississippi does not have a camp devoted solely to children with special needs, although there are many groups around our state holding camps for these kids. These are great camps, organized and staffed with volunteers who lease church camps or state parks for their camp. As wonderful as these facilities are, they were created to provide camp for children of their denomination or for tourists on vacation. Scheduling is a problem when leasing these camps. Only groups bringing kids with special needs will be using our camp...problem solved!
Often other facilities don't have an infirmary, making the job of the nurses very difficult. Also, there usually aren't toilet stalls or showers large enough for a child needing assistance. None of these camps have sidewalks connecting all the buildings and leading to activities, making it hard for children in wheel chairs, those using walkers, or the blind to move around camp. Pool access can be a serious challenge for some.
The benefits of a single facility for these groups are numerous. A single facility would ensure the availability of prime summer weeks to these groups. It would also ensure a cooperative effort in programming, volunteer recruitment and solicitation of donated goods. Costs could be cut through group purchasing of medical supplies, crafts and other program supplies, insurance and food. Through the use of a single facility, the facility itself would be designed to meet the needs of all the campers. The staff would be specifically trained to work with the unique needs of the campers. Finally, this would ensure an equal camping opportunity for all children..
Where will Camp Kamassa be located?
We have 326 acres in NW Copiah County.
How much will it cost to build the camp?
About $17 million.
How will the camp be funded?
The camp will be funded many different ways: donations, sponsorships, fundraisers, grants, and partnerships. Organizations using the camp will be expected to pay a minimal fee for each camper and volunteer attending. NO CAMPER WILL EVER PAY.
We have formed a wonderful partnership with the military. As training for them through a program called Innovative Readiness Training. Soldiers will come to Camp Kamassa April through early September. They will clear the land, put in the water, sewer, and electrical. They will also build our roads and, this summer 2018, construct 8 cabins and one large outdoor recreation building. For the next three years they will return to work on Camp Kamassa until it is complete. This represents $6 million in free labor. We must pay for all supplies needed.
How can I help?
We very much want to let people know about our plans. You can help by allowing us to come speak to your group. Of course, we need funds. You can have a fund raiser or give directly in memory or honor of someone. We have tribute cards and brochures we’d love to mail anyone interested. Or you can donate through our secure online donation page. We can be reached at: MTK Foundation, PO Box 520, Crystal Springs, MS 39059 or 601-892-1117.