New YMCA site prepares loads of fun

Published 7:45 pm Monday, May 21, 2012

Mario Faulk shows off the amphitheater where campers at Camp Arrowhead will begin each day with prayer, devotions and camp songs.

Children from across the region are going to have the time of their lives at camp this summer. Mario Faulk is sure of it.

Faulk, the senior program director for the Suffolk Family YMCA, is in charge of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads’ new regional summer camp, located on Kenyon Road in Suffolk. Known as Camp Arrowhead, the 55-acre campus will host hundreds of children for dozens of indoor and outdoor activities every weekday during the summer.

“This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Faulk said while conducting a tour of the camp this spring. “These kids are going to have so much fun every day.”


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The YMCA purchased the site from the former Hampton Roads Youth Center, a residential program for troubled teens that closed in 2008 because of dwindling revenues.

The center left the driveway, a few parking spaces, the building and a basketball court in place. But the YMCA has added many of its own touches to the property.

There now is an in-ground, covered pool, a pavilion, eight shelters, an amphitheater, an archery range, a walking track, sports fields and more.

But the biggest attraction for the kids will be the 50-foot alpine tower, Faulk said. The tower has several different levels of difficulty and features harnesses and other safety equipment.

“When they get to the top, it’s like somebody gave them a million dollars,” Faulk said. “This is the only one of these in Suffolk.”

At the amphitheater, the 325 or so daily campers will open the morning with prayer, devotions and camp songs. They will get several chances to swim each day, as well as to play sports and visit the archery range.

There also is a learning garden where the campers can explore how vegetables grow.

“So much stuff is out here that kids will never have an opportunity to do in their life again,” Faulk said.

Inside the remodeled building, there is a library with nature exhibits, a chapel and several large, open rooms with space for arts and crafts, music programs, table tennis, board games and other indoor activities.

“So much is going to happen,” Faulk said. “I know the impact that it has on kids. I’m so ready for it.”

Transportation to and from the camp will be provided from the Suffolk, Franklin and Taylor Bend YMCAs, as well as from Creekside and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools. It is included in the cost.

A free lunch and snack will be provided every day, thanks to the Cover 3 Foundation.

The cost is $130 per child, per week. Scholarships are available through the YMCA. Registration is on a week-by-week basis, so children do not have to be able to attend for the entire summer.

For more information or to register for camp, call your local YMCA: Suffolk (925-4375); Franklin (562-6831); or Taylor Bend (483-8822)