Camp Oz Balances Finances and Fun

OZARK, AL-- School’s out and nearly 100 kids in Ozark headed to Camp Oz today.

Ron Caldwell has been around since the beginning. “5 years ago we started this program Camp Oz," Caldwell said.

The idea for the low-cost summer program came about when the Ozark public pools were closed. Over the years, the camp’s popularity grew.

Ozark Recreations Supervisor Ron Caldwell said, “First week I think we had like 20 kids to last year at maximum of 136 kids.”

But the budget set by the city hasn’t expanded with it.

“You know we all have to tighten up our belts and we all have to be a team," Caldwell said.

Budget cuts have been see across the board and Camp Oz is no different. They have had to limit the number of kids they can take in and what they are able to do.

“We reduced the age of kids that can come. We used to do 6-14 now we are 6-12. We reduced our numbers like I said from 136 or 116 down to 100. And we also cut out some of our trips we are going to take with the kids," Caldwell said.

But campers can still count on their meals for the day. Made by the Summer Food Program, a state and federally funded program that makes nearly 600 meals a day from June to the end of July.

Caldwell said, “If we didn’t have the summer food program, we would have to ask parents to bring their lunches or provide funds for the lunches. The cost would go through the roof.”

Even with the cut, for their first day, campers didn’t seem to notice.

The Summer Food Program provides meals for kids in the Boys and Girls Club and Camp Oz, but it is also open to children in the public, free of cost at the Autry Recreation Center in Ozark.

For more information call 774-2042.

For more information on Camp Oz call Leisure Services: 774-2523.

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