ACWORTH, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Nearly four decades after one of the most tragic periods in Atlanta’s history, a summer program aimed at keeping kids safe is flourishing.
“Camp Best Friends was started by former mayor Maynard Jackson as a result of Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered Children,” says Atlanta Office of Recreation Executive Director LaChandra Burks. “He wanted to make sure that our youth in Atlanta had a fun and safe place to be during the summer.”
Camp Best Friends now serves around 4,000 youth every summer, across 25 different locations — including an overnight camp at Lake Allatoona. For just $80 ($135 for non-Atlanta residents), campers from the ages of eight to 12 get to experience a classic week of summer camp, including hiking nature trails, swimming and boating in the lake, and spending time around the campfire.
Youth are transported to and from the campground by bus, which leaves from the city’s Central Park Recreation Center on Monday mornings. Burks says since the camp’s creation 38 years ago, a quarter-of-a-million people have taken advantage of the program — and that this summer, in particular, is a meaningful one for those involved.
“This year is very important, because as you may know, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has re-opened the case, and she has a committee that has been put together to look at how we honor the children who were murdered during that time,” she says.
For a full list of day camp locations and registration information, click over to the city’s website here. And to get a look at the Lake Allatoona overnight camp, click the video player above.