Camp Eagle Ridge was established in 2010 by Dan Fritts in Collinsville, MS, as a nonprofit summer day camp for abled and special-needs children. This organization strives to develop in children the character qualities of determination, persistence, discipline, confidence, courage, and responsibility. The staff of Camp Eagle Ridge use a variety of therapeutic activities such as horseback riding, wall climbing, arts and crafts, and public speaking/presentations to build those qualities in the belief that they can assist children in building self-confidence to motivate themselves to succeed in school and pursue a higher education.
DTOC Membership became aware of the plans for Camp Eagle Ridge before it actually existed when Dan Fritts visited the club as a speaker and told of his dream of building Camp Eagle Ridge. After his first visit, the DTOC made a small donation of seed money to support Dan’s efforts. Over the next year, Camp Eagle Ridge began to take physical shape and soon after Dan found some suitable land in the Collinsville, MS area, the first children began showing up for summer camp.
To reach his dream, a lot still has to happen. Money has to be raised, buildings and activity areas have to be constructed. However, one of the foundational needs the Camp has is the need for easy access to water. While drinking water for humans will continue to be provided in bottles, there are a lot of areas in the camp where water is desperately needed. Pools cannot be built until water is available. Gardens can’t be grown without water. Horses and animals need drinking water. Cooling stations that spray water cannot be built. Bathrooms and cooking facilities cannot be built. In fact, many of the construction activities that will be coming in the future will need water to be completed.
Dan Fritts made the DTOC aware of this need almost a year ago and at the February 7th, 2012 meeting, after a lot of research and hard work by DTOC Member Dan Derrington, The Downtown Optimist Club presented a check to Dan Fritts and Camp Eagle Ridge for $5,000 to underwrite the installation of a water well. In recognition of his efforts, Dan Derrington was asked to make the formal presentation of the check. Dan Fritts graciously accepted the donation on behalf of the camp and made very clear the foundational role this water well will play in the future development of Camp Eagle Ridge.
It is worth mentioning that without community support of the Downtown Optimist Club’s Pancake Jubilee over the past 65 years, we could never make donations of this size to any organization. Thank you Meridian and Lauderdale County for supporting the DTOC efforts to support our youth!
The DTOC was honored to be able to support Camp Eagle Ridge and Dan Fritts’ efforts to help children. It will be exciting to see Dan’s dream become reality!