Royal Bazaar set for May 3 to May 5

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Royal Bazaar, a major fundraising drive for Royal Family Kids Camp, will be held May 3 through May 5 at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Cassville. The bazaar gets under way at 7 a.m. each morning and continues until 4 p.m.

The fundraiser benefits a week of camping experiences for children in foster care in six counties, including the 39th circuit, comprised of Barry, Lawrence and Stone counties.

Emily Akers, coordinator for the local camp, said the event focuses on giving abused and neglected children the opportunity to enjoy a camp experience.

"We go swimming, do arts and crafts, dress up, have puzzles and board games," Akers said. "There is also a take apart station the kids love. We provide an old piece of equipment that they can dismantle. It's amazing how many pieces there are to some things."

Camp counselors are volunteers for the event. New counselors have to undergo 12 hours of training and returning counselors are required to take an eight-hour refresher course before being allowed to interact with the children.

"It is essentially the same training that foster parents have to take," Akers said. "It addresses behavioral issues and special qualities these kids may exhibit during their stay."

Akers said in the five years she had been associated with the camp. There had been very few problems.

"We've been very blessed," she said.

The camp is geared to serve boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 11.

"One of the things we try to provide for each kid is their own birthday box," Akers said. "Many times, these kids don't get to celebrate birthdays, so we have a huge party for them at camp and celebrate everyone's birthday on the same day. They get to dress up in suits and dresses and ride in a limo on that day. Each child also receives a gift box containing approximately $100 in presents."

The Royal Bazaar is the major source of funding for the camp, which is entering its sixth season.

"We also host garage sales and bake sales, and we have some sponsors," Akers said. "It costs about $10,000 to host the week-long camp. That includes food for the kids and counselors, lodging, supplies, T-shirts and extras."

Akers and her husband, Max, previously worked at a similar camp and made the decision to establish one in this area.

"We were just led to fulfill this need," Akers said. "Camp is something special for these kids every year. They make wonderful memories that no one can take away from them."

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