Life For Youth Camp Entrance

Here we are at Life For Youth Camp/Camp Anderson-Vero in Vero Beach Florida. We left Camp Westminster in Conyers Georgia on Thanksgiving Day morning. We got up early as planned while it was still dark, ( Just a side note, we’ve been in Eastern Time Zone for several weeks now. I like Central Time much better ) and got the car all hooked up ready to pull out. Like the “flat towing rookies” we are we couldn’t seem to get it right. After an hour of trying, it didn’t seem like we had the jeep transmission disengaged correctly to tow it flat. So, we unhooked the jeep and drove both vehicles from Conyers, Georgia to Vero Beach, Florida. We switched off who was driving the motorhome and who was driving the jeep from time to time to break up the trip a bit. We had planned on the trip taking 10 hours which it did. We arrived an hour later than planned because of our failed attempts at trying to hook up the jeep but our thoughts were if not being able to get the jeep hooked up correctly was the worst that happened, all was good. Since it was Thanksgiving Day, traffic was light and the trip went smoothly. As things seem to go, the next day when we were trying to figure out what we were doing wrong, we figured out we had it right all along and could have flat towed the jeep. Oh well, for some reason, we weren’t supposed to flat tow that day.

Vero Beach is about halfway down the state of Florida on the Atlantic Coast. It’s is the county seat of Indian River County. This area is referred to as Florida’s Treasure Coast. We’ve been told that is because of all the ships that were wrecked off the coast and the treasures that have been found in underwater searches

The youth camp here is about 90 acres and is a beautiful peaceful setting even though it seems the city is right outside the gate and it’s only 2 miles from the I-95 corridor.

It was funny the night we arrived, the Camp Managers, William and Cindy Bloodworth came over to our motorhome to meet us and introduce themselves. After they left, Dave said, I’ve seen him before. It looks like the guy from Camp Anderson. When we were house parents at the Florida Sheriff’s Boys Ranch in Live Oak, Florida, we had taken boys to Camp Anderson at Old Town, Florida.

As we found out the next day, he is the guy from Camp Anderson! For some reason, Camp Anderson in Old Town closed and they moved Camp Anderson to Marianna, Florida. About two months ago, they took over the Life For Youth Camp. Currently, it is currently being called Life For Youth Camp/Camp Anderson-Vero and is being converted to the Camp Anderson model. Since they moved from Old Town in Central Florida to Marianna in the Panhandle area of Florida they found that many groups that used to go to Camp Anderson in Old Town could not travel the extra distance to the Marianna location. They have already started seeing some of those groups sign up for the Vero Beach location for this season.

Life For Youth Camp is over 60 years old. They used to have a lot of Day Campers here and the average age for Resident Campers was 12 years old with the youngest; Day Campers, at age 5. The plan now is to eliminate Day Camp and increase the top age of campers to age 18. That changes the activities and the amenities for the campers and the average age of the campers.

The main project the SOWERS are working on is reconfiguring the bunk beds. The camp is older and so are the bunk beds. The average age of a Resident Camper was 12 so the small 30 inch wide, thin mattresses may have been ok for a while. But now, with the average age of a Resident Camper being older and youth groups bringing their own adult counselors, the beds needed to be wider and more comfortable.

The men have been reconfiguring the beds and the women have been painting them.

The beds are all being modified to be 38 inches wide and to have standard twin bed mattresses. 185 bunk beds need to be modified. The wood is being cut in the maintenance shop, but the beds are being disassembled, reassembled, and painted in the cabins.

Once all 185 of these beds are reconfigured and painted, they will be bringing down another batch of beds to be painted. There are about 50 old metal army beds at the Marianna location that will be brought down to Vero to be painted and placed in the cabins. The next group of SOWERS that come in will be continuing the work on these beds and painting the metal beds. There should be 10 couples arriving in January so the project should move faster.

Our understanding is that there are already over 700 campers registered with the first group arriving the 2nd week of June. And, in January there is a retreat group coming in. Getting these beds done is a top priority.

Below are many pictures we took of the camp the first week we were here. There may be more coming later.

This was described to us as a ” fine example of red neck engineering”. The arms of this thing are from a pony ride for kids; the kind that the ponies are hooked to and walk around in circles. The motor for this is a tractor engine. The way we understood it is that the kids are on wakeboards and hold on to the handles of this and spin around. We were told the kids love it and the line to get on it is always long.

That’s all for now, Dave and Robyn