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story.lead_photo.caption Halle Hill (left), a camper at Camp War Eagle, is set Wednesday to take a pool plunge from a swing with help from Jordan Maass, a counselor at the camp near Rogers. - Photo by Flip Putthoff

ROGERS -- Officials announced Camp War Eagle expansion plans during its 10-year anniversary celebration Wednesday.

Photo by Flip Putthoff
Wyatt Heikes (center), with the camp staff, cheers with staff and campers Wednesday during the anniversary celebration.
Photo by Flip Putthoff
Campers and counselors play in the pool Wednesday at Camp War Eagle near Rogers.

More than 520 campers, along with 375 counselors and staff, jumped and hand-motioned to Christian praise songs as families, elected officials and other visitors gathered under the pavilion at the heart of the camp.

By the numbers

The following are Camp War Eagle attendance numbers

33,485 campers have attended the residential summer camp

1,409 children have attended the War Eagle Day Camp

441 students participated in the Leadership Training Program

7,327 children have attended OZONE

893 children have attended CWE After School Programs

Source: Camp War Eagle

After the initial celebration, Buddy Philpot, executive director for the Walton Family Foundation, announced the camp would expand to keep up with the demand.

The camp has grown about 20 percent since the first session of 412 campers in 2006. It could expand by up to 50 percent inside the 500-plus acres on Beaver Lake donated by Alice Walton, said Sam Torn, the camp's executive director. No additional expansion details were released.

"When we originally planned Camp War Eagle, we knew that the region was growing and Alice was very mindful of that fact," Torn said. "So under her directive, we planned for Camp War Eagle to be expanded without really impacting the property."

The Walton Family Foundation awarded Camp War Eagle $8.1 million in 2004 when construction began and has supported the nonprofit organization.

Only children from Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison counties are eligible to attend the camp, which reduces tuition for families based on household annual. Families with a gross annual household income of $40,000 or below pay $20 for a one-week session and $30 for a two-week camp. The sliding scale tops out at $1,395 for seven days for families earning more than $200,000, and $2,495 for 14 days.

After the celebration, campers rushed for Mish-Mash, an activity free-for-all. Kids lined up on two wooden ladders and platforms for the most popular event, the yellow, red and blue striped water blob. Children jumped from the platform and onto the inflatables before propelling into the water.

The camp features 60 activities including swimming, archery, horsemanship, pottery and nature study and conservation.

Walton and Torn founded the camp to help children ages 7-17 gain independence, make friends, learn about God and develop leadership skills. Most importantly, the vision was to permanently impact the culture of Northwest Arkansas, Torn said, "and yes, a summer camp that is for every socio-economic, cultural and racial background is a huge part of that."

Every camper has to earn their way in through volunteering, civic engagement and academic attendance and achievement, Torn said. Over the last 10 years, 33,485 campers have attended the residential summer camp, and campers and their families have completed 642,685 hours of community service, according to the camp's statistics.

"Our goal is to introduce the children to the concept of giving back," Torn said. "Because we want all the children of Northwest Arkansas to be able to experience Camp War Eagle, we make it a graduated scale. In other word, you have to do more to come back."

Students can gain community service hours and participate in activities other than overnight summer camp by attending weekly Ozone meetings, school-based mentoring program CWE365 and at the camp's after school program SOAR.

Kim Kretzer, her two daughters and her son were the first family to walk through the doors of Camp War Eagle when it opened. She had no idea what she was getting into but took the opportunity to give her kids an experience they otherwise couldn't afford, Kretzer said.

"We have just enjoyed everything about it. You think even after 10 years they wouldn't go, 'I can't wait for camp next year,' but they do," she said.

Her son, Harrison Kretzer, has attended every year at War Eagle since the age of 7. After thinking hard about what he would like to see expanded, he said the camp needed a larger ropes course and more blobs -- his two favorite activities.

"The best thing is it's not the same every year because you meet new people," he said. "This past year I was in cabin 45. It was the best cabin I have been a part of just with the joy everybody experienced with each other. Just, camp is awesome."

NW News on 06/09/2016

Print Headline: Camp War Eagle celebrates 10 years, plans to expand

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