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Three Trails Camp continues its mission to serve despite closing down last summer

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Posted at 1:28 PM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 14:28:40-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Three Trails Camp, in partnership with The Salvation Army, is continuing its mission to serve the community. Since closing down its summer camp last year, staff has created various projects to meet the needs of those struggling during the pandemic.

“Our mission is to serve people here in this community and whatever is a need,” said Major David Harvey with The Salvation Army. “We’re that kind of safety net — when others say no, The Salvation Army will be there to help.”

Camp Director Michael Dixon said staff was devastated when they had to shut down its summer camp last year. The Three Trails Camp is a legacy dating back to 1924, serving children from all of the states of Kansas and Missouri.

“For us to provide a place for them, to come and really have a safe place for people that love them and care about them and want them to be successful, it’s why we do what we do,” Dixon said.

While the camp’s regular operations were halted, Dixon and his team kept busy over the last 12 months. When the pandemic hit, he decided to step up in a big way.

“We had these buildings that were sitting empty in our headquarters,” Dixon said. “We made the decision that we wanted to provide our facilities to Jackson County.”

Staff provided one of their lodges to Jackson County and the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness. It became a COVID-19 isolation camp for those who are homeless, providing them three meals a day, medical attention and a safe place where they can recuperate.

In the fall, staff partnered with the Independence School District to help kids struggling with online learning. They opened “Thrive Camp” in the camp’s cafeteria.

“We provided monitors that would help them get caught up, because the majority of the kids that came here were way behind, failing classes,” Dixon said.

On average, children saw two grade levels go up by the end of the semester.

Dixon said he and his staff are excited to open back up this year and welcome kids to their summer camp. After months of planning, consulting, and managing potential risks, he is optimistic.

“There’s nothing we can really do to completely wipe it out, we’re just doing the best that we can to provide a safe place and having our procedures in place to keep the staff and kids safe."

While he is not requiring staff and campers to get tested or vaccinated for COVID-19, he is encouraging them to do so. He said about 95 percent of the year-round staff have been vaccinated.

There will be hand sanitizing stations, cabin mates will be eating together, and small groups will be moving from station to station in pods.

“The laughter that’s going to be happening, the fun activities, just the joy that will be here is unbelievable,” Dixon said.