First-time campers are always excited about going to Camp Moss Hollow, and we support that excitement through our annual Send a Kid to Camp fund-raising campaign. My associate, Suzannah Gonzales, talked with a 9-year-old girl from Prince George's County who can't wait to go. Suzannah's report:
Nine-year-old Myosha Phiferhas known she wanted to go to Camp Moss Hollow since she first heard about it from her friend Danielle Arty.
Danielle, 12, has been to Moss Hollow before and will go there again this summer. "She said it's going to be fun," Myosha said excitedly as she sat at a coffee table in the family living room one recent afternoon.
"We're going to be going to the pool every day. We're going to be going places every day. We're going to be having fun."
Myosha and Danielle have watched the 1998 movie "The Parent Trap" six times together. The movie, a Walt Disney remake of a 1961 version starring Hayley Mills, portrays twin girls who were separated at birth when their parents were divorced. The girls are reunited at summer camp.
Myosha said that what she likes most about the movie, which she considers one of her favorites, are the camping scenes.
"We keep watching it over and over," Myosha said.
Her mother, Rochelle Benjamin, 27, said Myosha and Danielle are "real good friends." The girls' mothers are good friends, too, and the families often socialize together. They live near each other in Prince George's County and have known each other for more than a year.
Myosha, a third-grader at Robert Frost Elementary School, said she can't wait to make new friends at Moss Hollow, which is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Markham, Va.
"I like jump roping," she said. She also wants to play kickball, board games and card games and make crafts once she gets to camp, she said.
Most of all, Myosha said, she is eager to start "looking for things, like fish, frogs, butterflies." Rochelle explained that Myosha has always liked animals. In their home, they have a dog, two birds and fish too numerous to count.
Rochelle said she's glad that her daughter will have an opportunity to go to camp.
"She could learn new things. She needs to learn about other things," Rochelle said. "I just hope she learns whatever they have to offer her."
Myosha and her four siblings, Maurice Walker, 10; Patricia Atkins, 6; Abdul Khabir Benjamin, 21 months; and Tyri Benjamin, 3 months, live with Rochelle in a rented house in Palmer Park. The three youngest children are too young to attend camp. Maurice will be in New York this summer, visiting family.
In October 1997, Rochelle moved the family to Maryland from New York City to escape gang activity, she said. She thought the schools and neighborhoods in suburban Maryland would be better for her children. In September, the family will move again, to nearby Landover, Rochelle said.
In order to care for her youngest child, Tyri, Rochelle is not working right now. She is looking for a job and will start a computer training program at the end of July, she said. She hopes the training will land her an office job.
The family's only source of income is $497 a month for Temporary Cash Assistance, paid by the government, Rochelle said. Rochelle will be able to send Myosha to camp for $10, a fee that was determined by her income.
When Myosha leaves by bus in early July, it will be the first time she has gone to sleep- away camp.
She said she's not scared "because I like going in cabins and going out in the woods, looking for things." But she thinks she'll miss her family while she's away, especially "my little brother, Tyri."
Rochelle said she never went to camp when she was a girl, so she doesn't know exactly what Myosha can expect. But Rochelle is hopeful.
"I hope it gives her a good experience that she can really take with her as she grows," Rochelle said.
goal by July 30: $550,000.
In hand as of June 11: $31,333.35.
CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:
Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.
VISA OR MASTERCARD:
Call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 on a touch-tone phone. Then punch in K-I-D-S, or 5437, and follow instructions.