8-28-13 Feds to fund Tampa scientists’ exhumation work at old reform school cemetery Sen. Nelson helped USF find more than $420,000 Click HERE to read. this and MANY other news clips.
URGENT INFORMATION as of 8-24-12 ! PLEASE READ!!
(Note: The Nomination info for our October Election has been moved to below this very important announcement!)
IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT JERRY COOPER -
To All Of Interest – Including Families of Interred Boys At The Florida School For Boys (aka "Dozier")
Please understand that what follows is my personal opinion and thoughts on what will probably happen when the exhumations take place this coming month. We have, I think, 7 or 8 families that have requested to have their loved ones returned for a proper burial and have given their DNA samples to be compared as the exhumations are done.
Now here are what I see as the "Red Flags against the State Of Florida!!!!":
I give it less than a 50 percent chance that all seven or eight bodies whose families are seeking repatriation, and that are coming from the so called Boot Hill location, will be matches, for a lot of reasons!!!! If I'm correct, this would be a huge red flag against the state!!! This would open up a rash of lawsuits against the state – hands down!!! Also if any of the bodies exhumed show any signs of foul play whatsoever, the state again loses its position.
There are too many possibilities that can happen here that would indicate that foul play did occur in Marianna at Florida School for Boys aka “Dozier”. Like Pulitzer Prize Nominated reporter, Ben Montgomery, of the St Pete Times (now named Tampa Bay Times) told me a couple of years ago, "The Truth Will Come Out".
It has already been proven that there are more than the 31 bodies that FDLE reported to be located at the “Boot Hill” location in their “so called investigation” (Click HERE and HERE to read the complete FDLE “Investigations”). This is a Huge Red Flag!!!!
Another problem can occur at “Boot Hill”. What if the bodies there are all black or all white??? That would be another problem for the state.
I can almost promise you that the U.S. Justice Dept. will have to get involved in order to find out the whole truth about the history of Florida School for Boys, aka “Dozier”. Since there is a 1400 acre site that has to be searched, it could take a lot of years to do so. Maybe, in the near future, some help could come from the Justice Dept. I assume that USF will continue to do the Ground Penetrating Radar work while the exhumations are being done.
I would like to share some info that was sent to me by our fine brother, Andrew Puel, who has made many trips to Tallahassee and Marianna for me, Roger Kiser, and Robert Straley, in order to gather records and very important documents over the past few years. His efforts have been a huge benefit towardss finding the truth!!!! Andrew made these trips, having only limited funds, and I cannot thank him enough!!! He has been taking care of his father, on his own, for many years until his father's recent death, and he is a devoted Christian man.
The ledgers that Andrew copied by hand and sent to me are very important. They date back from 1937 through 1961. The report shows 184 boys that escaped during those years, but only only 5 boys are shown as being recaptured!!!! The ledgers are all blank after the date of escape. They include the following columns:
1. RECAPTURED DATE: ALL BLANK except for 5 boys!!!!
2. DATE RELEASED: ALL BLANK except 1 boy, which is shown as being released on his
escape date?? GO FIGURE!!
3. HOW RELEASED: ALL WERE BLANK!!!
4. REMARKS COLUMN: ALL WERE BLANK!!!
Let me say this about the boys I know of from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s – I can only recall maybe 3-4 men that, as boys, made successful escapes from this institution during 3 decades. How could 184 boys have made it out of there in the 3 decades before???? My opinion is that they did not!!! Some of these boys were as young as 12 years old!!! Give me a break!!!!
In my research this last week, I have found that there are 2 boy's names on the list of 8 who will be included in the tests that will attempt to match DNA taken by their family members to locate their bodies at Boot Hill. Why are these 2 boys not listed in the FDLE report which attempts to name the bodies buried in 31 graves?????? to see the list of the 8. The 2 names are Joshua Backey and Robert Stephens. This, to me, is another red flag!!!
Another Red Flag: How does the “Find a Grave” website come up with 3 times more names of those buried at “Dozier” than the FDLE report came up with??? To go to the Find a Grave website click HERE, and a copy of their information on Dozier follows below also.
Two of 8 names on the list of those that will be DNA matched are staff members who died in the 1914 fire, in which a cottage burned down. They are R. Bennett Evans and Charles M. Evans. Now do you think its possible that 2 white staff members were buried with black boys in 1914 when there was such segregation at that time in history (even in the US Military until the late 1950s), and especially in that part of the south?????
I think the only way to resolve what happened at the Florida School for Boys in Marianna, FL (aka “Dozier) is to have the U.S. Justice Dept. decide in the near future, that they should intervene and find out what happened and how it happened – Period!!! I believe they should have already done so with all the info that has been uncovered and is available to them!!!
The records I have on the 184 Boys that escaped will be sent to the following: Senator Nelson, The Department of Juvenile Justice, Pam Bondi, The U.S. Justice Dept, Governor Rick Scott, and The Department of Agriculture. The information will also be available to all news media, and it will be sent to all the Attorneys that represent The White House Boys. I only hope we live long enough to find the truth about this most "UNGODLY" place we once knew as children.
Jerry Cooper, President, "White House Boys"
Find a Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gsr&GSsr=1&GScid=2335290&
Cemetery notes and/or description (From Find A Grave website):
This small field is located in the woods on the present grounds of the Arthur G.
Dozier School for Boys, a state juvenile correction facility. Originally known as the Florida State Reform School (Established in 1900) and later the Florida Industrial School for Boys, the institution has a notorious reputation as an abusive place in its earlier years, complete with a torture chamber known as the "White House". The cemetery was active from about 1914 to 1952. Since death certificates were not required prior to 1917 and subsequent records are not complete, it is not known how many people are interred here. State Investigators believe at least 81 are buried here and at another location about 500 yards to the north. The argument for two locations is bolstered by the fact that it was not the custom in the days when the cemetery was active to bury whites and “ coloreds” at the same site (The races were segregated at this facility). 31 metal crosses were erected at this location near extant shallow indentations in the ground in 1996 to replace concrete/rebar crosses from the 1960's that had been removed and stored near the site...It is believed wooden crosses or no markers were originally employed...
State and school records show that out of nearly 100 children who died while at the school, there are no burial records for 22 of them.
LIST OF CHILDREN WHOSE FAMILIES ARE REQUESTING REPATRIATION VIA DNA TESTS
RE: NOMINATIONS FOR OFFICERS OF THE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE BOYS ORGANIZATION FOR 2014 - 2015
This is the year we hold elections for 2014-2015 officers, and the following positions are available for nomination: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Sergeant at Arms
Our 2012 - 2013 Officers are as follows:
President Emeritus - Dick Colon
President (Acting President) - Jerry Cooper
Vice President - Nate Dowling /
Treasurer - Peggy Marx
Secretary - Babbs Cooper /
Sergeant At Arms James M "Harley" DeNyke
Nominations will be accepted through Sept 1, 2013.
If you wish to nominate an officer, please send an email with the name of the position, and the person you are nominating for that office to the address below. Please write the word NOMINATION in the Subject Line of your email. email@example.com
NEWS 2-1-13 ABOUT USF & BILL NELSON RELATING TO DOZIER GRAVES. CLICK HERE ---------------------
WHITE HOUSE BOYS PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT on 1-8-13 BY EDMUND FOUNTAIN OF TAMPABAY TIMES - CLICK HERE FOR INFO! -- ----------------------------------------
To go straight to News about the USF INVESTIGATION into Dozier Reform School (Florida School for Boys, Marianna, Florida) unmarked Graves, click HERE-
Read about our Christmas Project for the boys at Eckerd's Youth Academy...CLICK HERE.
Our White House Boys Flag has been traveling to memorial services, thanks to Sargeant at Arms, Jim DeNyke "Harley". Read More HERE.
We have a new addition to "Men's Stories", to read, CLICK HERE.
Bill Nelson, Senator, Wants Feds To Probe Florida Reform School
MARIANNA, Fla. — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wants the Justice Department to join an expanded search for graves and possible evidence of crimes at a defunct reform school in the Florida Panhandle. The Florida Democrat on Wednesday made the request in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
University of South Florida anthropologists on Monday released a report indicating they had documented the deaths of two staffers and 96 children at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. They also said they found 50 gravesites on the grounds. That's 19 more than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement identified in a prior investigation. FDLE, though, was unable to confirm or refute claims that school staffers had abused students decades ago.
The anthropologists believe additional research will turn up more gravesites.
READ MORE ON THIS TOPIC, CLICK HERE
URGENT MESSAGE FROM JERRY COOPER AND DICK COLON TO ALL WHITE HOUSE BOYS - PLEASE READ!!!
I first would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
We need to address some issues which are now happening within the White House Boys.
Since there has been news that has gone public regarding Senator Bill Nelson, Commissioner Putnam and the US Justice Department, and the University of South Florida, some of the men have taken it into their own hands to address these officials concerning White House Boys issues.
We urge you to please NOT contact any of these officials regarding White House Boys issues. If there are any issues that you feel should be brought to attention at this time, please contact me Jerry Cooper (239-542-3831) or Robert Straley (727–447-4441).
In a conversation that I had with President, Dick Colon today, we agree that all the men need to leave the professionals involved,...including the legal team...alone to do their jobs (which they are quite capable of ) and that the White House Boys need to just be patient and wait and see what happens. Of course, if you have NEW information, please be sure to contact Jerry or Robert at the numbers above.
As you all know, Senator Nelson has sent a request for the US Justice Department to please assist USF in their investigation as early as January, but please understand, it does not mean that Attorney General Holder has agreed to get involved, or not, for one reason or another – it was ONLY a request. We need to leave it at that! We have not yet even heard their reply as to whether or not they will get involved.
Again, we care about all of you, but at this time we just need to let the professionals do their work. As we learn of any news or actions that have been taken by the Legal Team, we will advise you. Please do not contact the Legal Team directly, because as you must know, they have their hands full.
Dick Colon, President of the Official White House Boys Organization
by, Jerry Cooper, Acting President of the Official White House Boys Organization
If any man was at Marianna Florida School for Boys in 1962 or 1963 and knew Wayne Tillis or Eddie Tillis, please contact Ben Montgomery of the St. Petersburg Times / Tampa Bay Times IMMEDIATELY with any information you may have. Or, call Jerry Cooper at 239-542-3831. This is VERY IMPORTANT!!!
Florida's Dozier School For Boys: A True Horror Story on NPR (National Public Radio) 10-15-12 CLICK HERE
Researchers find more graves at Dozier than state said existed
By Ben Montgomery and Waveney Ann Moore,
Times Staff Writers
Tampa Bay Times Posted: Oct 11, 2012 06:51 PM
For years, Richard Varnadoe has longed to know where the state buried his brother, Thomas, who died at 13, as a ward of Florida's oldest reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna.
"I feel an obligation that the truth has to come out, what happened to him," said Varnadoe, 83. "I am the last hope . . . I'm the last sibling."
New evidence unearthed by researchers at the University of South Florida may shed light on where Thomas and dozens of other boys who died in state custody are buried. The team has identified at least 49 graves in and near the notorious school's known cemetery, north of the campus. That's 18 more than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found during a 2009 investigation.
Researchers have also found "sufficient evidence" to conclude there's likely another clandestine cemetery on school property, in a patch of woods on the south side of campus, which had been reserved for white students during segregation.
Led by Erin Kimmerle, associate professor of anthropology at USF, the researchers petitioned the state to use ground penetrating radar to try to find the second cemetery and determine how many graves it contained. But the state denied the petition in August because it intended to sell 220 acres of the land at public auction. The school closed in 2011, after 111 years of operation.
The Department of Juvenile Justice reversed its ruling Thursday afternoon, a day after Thomas Varnadoe's nephew, Glen Varnadoe, filed a lawsuit to put a stop to the sale.
"After careful consideration, we will work with the researchers on how best to provide them access to the site," said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters.
"It sounds very encouraging," said Glen Varnadoe. "I think if they let Dr. Kimmerle and her staff do the research on the ground, they will find what we're looking for."
Kimmerle suspected there was a second cemetery on the property when her team discovered no segregation between graves at the known cemetery, called Boot Hill. Until 1968, it was customary for cemeteries to have defined separate areas for the remains of whites and blacks.
Former wards of the state, and family members of those who died in custody, also told researchers they had seen a cemetery on the south side of campus. Among them was Ovell Krell, a former Lakeland police officer, who suspects her brother was killed by guards in 1940.
Krell said her family drove to Marianna to investigate her brother's reported disappearance from the school. By the time they arrived, they were shown a pile of dirt in a cemetery south of campus, which the superintendent identified as her brother's grave.
Researchers John Powell and Richard Weltz also matched an aerial photograph of a cemetery from a Jackson County historian to a spot on the south campus.
"It's too much evidence from too many sources to say it's nothing," Kimmerle said.
Since 2008, former wards, mostly from the 1950s and '60s, have spoken publicly about being abused at the school. Hundreds told of being hit with a leather strap until they bled in a small building called the White House. Some have reported that bunk-mates were taken to the White House for punishment and never returned.
Former Gov. Charlie Christ ordered an investigation in 2009 after news spread of a cemetery in a small clearing in the woods dotted by 31 white metal crosses. Relying heavily on the school's own records, FDLE determined that at least 81 boys died in custody, and that 29 boys and two men were buried at the cemetery.
USF's Kimmerle, along with archaeologist Richard Estabrook and a team of students, used ground-penetrating radar and other "ground truthing" techniques and determined that the actual cemetery extended 20 meters north of the marked site, into a heavily wooded area. And they found a minimum of 49 graves, which Kimmerle called a "conservative estimate."
"That's a minimum number," she said. "These are the ones that we are confident saying these are grave shafts."
Kimmerle said it's also possible that some graves may contain more than one child.
"This is the worst case of child abuse in American history," said Robert Straley, of Clearwater, who was abused at the school when he was 13. "They have an obligation to make that into a real cemetery, where the relatives of boys would be allowed to go in there and pay their respect and they should build a monument to all the boys who died and were never identified."
The Varnadoes hope someday to identify Thomas' remains, and to have them disinterred and reburied at the family's plot in Brooksville, beside his mother.
"Our interest in this is a 13-year-old child that never got to come home to his mother," Glen Varnadoe said. "Our interest is in bringing this child home so he can spend the rest of eternity with his family."
Ben Montgomery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8650. Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2283.
Posted on Thu, Oct. 11, 2012
Unmarked graves of notorious youth prison snag sale by Florida DJJ
By Carol Marbin Miller
The Dozier School for Boys in Marianna had a history rife with abuse. As recently as 2004, a boy had his head smashed on concrete by a guard. For decades in the middle of the 20th century, boys were beaten by guards with a heavy leather paddle. Former Dozier School for Boys (then called Florida School for Boys) inmate Dick Colon is shown holding a replica of the leather paddle. In 1983, the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit claiming kids were hogtied and left in isolation for extended periods. Four years later plans were announced to overhaul the juvenile justice system, but those at Dozier at that time say those reforms never happened. The grounds of Florida’s most notorious youth prison, a century-old Panhandle reform school, are now a 220-acre money pit that costs more to maintain than the property may be worth. Youth corrections administrators had circled Oct. 15 as the date they could finally unload the place, and its many ghosts.
But the sale of the controversial Dozier School for Boys hit an unexpected snag Thursday as the brother and nephew of a 13-year-old boy who died there in 1934 filed suit in Tallahassee, asking a judge to stop the sale so that family members can find the child’s now-hidden grave.
The lawsuit is the latest chapter in a decades-long saga involving scores of now-grown men from throughout the state who say they were raped or mercilessly beaten or both at the Marianna campus. The “White House Boys” — as some of the men have dubbed themselves after the squat white-washed cottage where they were whipped sometimes 100 times or more — have spawned at least two books and a movement to extract some type of compensation from the Florida Legislature.
Glen Varnadoe is not one of the White House Boys. He says he is a 63-year-old man who just wants to return his uncle’s remains to a family graveyard in Marion County, where they belong.
“He was a 13-year-old kid, and he deserves, at some point, to be brought back home to his mother,” said Varnadoe, who lives in Lakeland. “All this case is about is bringing a 13-year-old home and burying him with the rest of the family.”
Varnadoe and his uncle, Joseph R. Varnadoe, will appear before a Leon Circuit Court judge at 3 p.m. Friday in an effort to stop the sale of the Dozier property.
Late Thursday, the Department of Juvenile Justice’s chief, Wansley Walters, said her agency will reconsider the state’s decision to close off the campus from researchers and family members seeking to locate the graves of children who died there.
“As secretary of the [DJJ], I am profoundly aware of the historical significance of the North Florida Youth Development Center [NFYDC], formerly the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys,” Walters said. “One of the decisions I am most proud of is that this administration closed NFYDC in 2011. After careful consideration, we will work with the researchers on how best to provide them access to the site.”
For several months, a team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida has been scouring the boys’ school campus in search of what they believe to be the unmarked graves of an unknown number of children who died during Dozier’s more than 100 years of operation. In July, Erin Kimmerle, an anthropology professor, asked state land managers for permission to study a portion of the school, known as the South Campus, where state juvenile justice administrators operated a corrections center until last year. The South Campus originally contained cottages, schools and other facilities used exclusively by white children; African-American youth had been housed in a separate campus nearby.
The North Campus, where black children were housed, now contains several ramshackle cottages that — though largely falling apart — were frozen in time decades ago, with furniture, books and Bibles scattered as they were the day the campus was closed. It also holds a cemetery — called Boot Hill — with about 30 graves in neat rows loosely marked by spare crosses of white-washed PVC pipe.
Researchers and others believe white children who died at Dozier were buried somewhere on the South Campus, and they cite the conventions of the South in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s as support for their beliefs. If the children were housed in different dormitories, ate in separate mess halls, played on segregated sports teams and studied in classrooms far apart — why would they have been buried together?
“It was the law of the land that there be separate facilities, and also the custom of the South that whites and blacks be buried separately,” said Robert S. Bolt, a Tampa lawyer who is representing the Varnadoes.
And court pleadings filed Thursday say researchers have interviewed townspeople, former inmates of the youth camp and relatives who say they either saw burial sites on the South Campus or were told about them by people who had.
Said Bolt: “There is plenty of good evidence that that’s where the white cemetery is.”
But in a letter last August, a head of the state Bureau of Public Land Administration, Victoria F. Thompson, denied Kimmerle’s request, “due to the upcoming surplus sale of this property and liability concerns.”
DJJ is spending $357,521 yearly to maintain the property, which is not expected to fetch more than that at sale.
Bids for the Dozier property, — described as “gently rolling, improved and wooded,” in a sale announcement — were to be opened next Monday. In their complaint, the Varnadoes say going forward with the sale will forever prevent them from retrieving the remains of Thomas Varnadoe, whose death certificate says he died on or about Oct. 26, 1934 of pneumonia.
Glen Varnadoe’s father, who died in 1973, was sent to Dozier, along with Thomas, when the two brothers were arrested in Hernando County on malicious trespassing charges, Glen Varnadoe said. A Dozier student newspaper reported that Thomas had been in poor health when he entered the youth prison, but family members long have disputed that claim. The “Yellow Jacket” newspaper also reported that Thomas was carried to his grave by fellow inmates who acted as pallbearers while a large contingent of staff members looked on solemnly.
Varnadoe said his father never discussed Thomas’ death, though he did insist that only he and a grave-digger attended the funeral. “At Thomas’ funeral, they dug a hole and they put him in,” he said.
If researchers can identify Thomas’ remains, Varnadoe said, he would like to place them “right beside the headstone of his mother.”
Varnadoe says he suspects some of the newer buildings on the South Campus likely were erected atop the bones of children who were unceremoniously deposited under the ground, as he says Thomas was. And he fears the boys, like his uncle Thomas, will remain there forever if DJJ is allowed to sell the site before the graves are located and preserved.
“To think he will spend an eternity buried under a parking lot somewhere is just a travesty,” Varnadoe said.
© 2012 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/11/v-print/3045869/unmarked-graves-of-notorious-youth.html#storylink=cpy
CLICK HERE TO VIEW LASTEST NEWS ABOUT USF'S RESEARCH AT BOOTHILL CEMETARY
CLICK THE WORD "LISTEN" BELOW TO HEAR THE USF BROADCAST ON PUBLIC BROADCASTING REGARDING THE GRAVES AT DOZIER.(Florida School For Boys aka Florida Industrial School).
Listen to the Radio Broadcast
WHITE HOUSE BOYS BRING CHRISTMAS JOY TO AT-RISK YOUTH
Per Lisa Anspacher of Eckerd:
I wanted to send a quick thank you for everything that you did yesterday. It was magical and we have never seen all the children so happy at one time. All of you truly are angels in disguise.
Wednesday, December 14th, will be a day remembered by many – both the White House Boys representatives carrying gifts to the boys at Eckerd Youth Alternatives home for troubled teens and the boys who were the recipients of these gifts.
For weeks, the Christmas Committee has been hard at work gathering donations for the boys at Eckerds, and finally, with great joy, on Wednesday, we got to bring an abundance of gifts and goodies to 27 boys who reside at Eckerd Youth Alternatives outdoor residential program in Brooksville, Florida.
The day began with unloading FOUR vehicles FULL of presents, clothing, food, sports equipment and other treasures for the boys. While we were organizing the gifts, Lisa A., supervisor, called Jerry Cooper aside and asked if he would speak freely to a boy who was having trouble with authority. The boys mother was present, and told us she was at her wits end with this young man. He continued to violate the judge's orders, and had yet another appearance scheduled next week. She begged Jerry to make a difference in the young man's attitude. Jerry and the boy spoke at length, and he spoke bluntly about what it would mean for the young man to continue down the path he'd chosen. Many tears later, Lisa told us it may have been just what the boy needed.
After meeting with the staff and setting up the gifts, we met the rest of the boys for the first time in the “Chuck Wagon”, which is the cafeteria and meeting room at the camp. They filed in, a bit stand-offish, wondering who the strangers in the room were.
Next, Jerry Cooper was introduced to the boys, and as planned, he spoke to the them briefly about the horrors of the White House, and then turned his speech around 180 degrees giving them hope and encouragement for their future. He told them the military was a great “next step” for them, and how a good education is vital for their success. He talked about having goals, and how they didn't have to continue along the path they were on – the future was theirs if they changed their ways and “don't continue what you were doing before you got here”. He gave them a nice mix of advice ranging from what could happen to them if they continue their destructive behavior to all the possibilities they have if they respect authority and have goals and plans for their future and take the steps necessary to “make it happen”. The camp had invited a reporter from Hernando Today and the reporter listened intently to Jerry's chat with the boys as well. (see article at the end)
The talk wrapped up and gifts were distributed. Each boy received: 2 pairs of socks, a pack of 2 underwear (boxer briefs), a sweat shirt and sweat pants, pair of Wrangler Jeans, a jigsaw puzzle, a beanie buddie, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, Christmas Cards (one was stamped to mail to a loved one at home), a Zac Brown Hat, 10 skeins of embroidery thread and 2 packs of plastic lacing plus rings and clips for the keychains and bracelets they make from these, bag of fudge, candy and cookies, glow in the dark sticks and other glow in the dark novelties (these were a big hit, the boys used them IMMEDIATELY), and a Journal and Pen (which the boys all use).
In addition, we donated regulation size soccer goals to the camp, along with footballs, soccer balls and basketballs. We also donated lots of yarn, beads, and blank paper to the boys as well. In addition, each boy got a "gently worn" hooded sweatshirt, and we added shoes, shirts and shorts to their supply room.
Any excess presents (2 boys went home after we'd shopped) were donated to their “store” in which the boys are able to buy things with a small allowance they are given each month. The boys keep a checkbook of sorts and have to decide between their “wants” and “needs” – preparing them for budgeting their money in “real life”.
The best part of the day had to be watching the boys “ooh and aah” at the overflowing contents of their gift bags. Next, a young man in the program sheepishly came up to us and asked if we would like to join them at their lunch tables. We split up and each table was visited by a “White House Boy” and their partner and we got to know the boys and their history. Again, we encouraged them to turn from the things that put them in the program and have great goals for their life. Of note, was the relationship between the counselors and boys. It was quite obvious to us that the staff truly cares about these boys.
A tour of the camp was next, and we got to see how the boys live – they sleep in a “tent” which is a structure with a log pole at each corner, a tin roof, and a wooden surrounding that goes perhaps 3 feet off the ground. The upper part of each “wall” is open to the elements except for some netting. The boys build these structures themselves from the ground up, including finding the trees to use for the poles, and whittling them away until they are just right. It is a great exercise in math, construction and teamwork. We got to meet with the boys again, and got to know them on a more personal level. Emails and addresses were exchanged with those who asked, and these young men seemed truly appreciative that we cared about them.
In all, the day could not have gone better. Special thanks to those who made it all possible: Mike Sapp and Debbie Bergani, Roger Kiser, Robert Straley, Bill Haynes, Jerry & Babbs Cooper, Peggy Marx and Carl, Chuck & Karen Fedora, Richard Davis, Dick Colon, Ben Elder, Charlie Fudge, Roy Connerly, Bill and Judy Calgun, Richard and Nancy Barton, Howard and Lynn Post, Rev Nan, and Amy Bonano. Without your help, this day would not have been possible. You all gave generously from your heart, and I can't express how much you touched the lives of these young men!
CLICK HERE for Hernando Today Article about the event.
A Photo Gallery of the Joyous Event Follows....
All photos are "click to enlarge. Feel free to copy, share, print, etc. Enjoy! There are many pages. Use the numbers below the photos to turn pages.