Cedar Rapids "Disaster Camp" kicks off - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids "Disaster Camp" kicks off

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Kids everywhere are heading off to summer camps for fishing, canoeing, and hiking. One camp is getting started this week in Cedar Rapids, but it won't be all fun and games.

The idea behind this "disaster camp" is to teach kids about how communities responded to last year's record flood. The objective is to make a positive difference in a city still rebuilding.

As high school freshman Zack McElroy unpacks his bags, he knows there's work to be done in the days ahead. "Mainly, helping people. Fixing up their homes," he said. 

As a flood victim who's received help, this is a chance for him to give back. "A lot of people have been helping us, so we're getting better."

After a brief orientation, he and two dozen other campers will break off into groups this week, and fan out across the city.

"Some of them will be working in flood homes, repainting or drywalling, that kind of thing," said camp co-director Clint Twedt-Ball. "Some will be serving lunches here, we have a free-lunch program, and some of them will be serving at other non-profits throughout the community."

They're ready to get their hands dirty, as they re-seed an empty patch of dirt near downtown. They'll host a sports camp for kids living near Taylor Elementary School. And, they'll learn some details about the flood itself along the way. It's heavy subject matter compared to average summer camp fare, but Twedt-Ball is confident the experience will be eye-opening.

"What we've found is, when youth go through an intense experience like this, it has the ability to draw them closer to each other, and to really have a lasting impact that will kind of change the course of their lives."

Even after some of these kids lived through the flood, they're eager to learn more about it, and even more excited to take some time from their summer fun, to lend a hand.

This week's group of campers are from the Cedar Rapids area and from Michigan. They'll leave on Friday, and the counselors will welcome a new group next weekend.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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