It's barely after 9 on a Tuesday morning -- hardly the time for a children's party to be going on in a Leesburg neighborhood. But that's what it looks and sounds like over at the Loudoun House Apartments.

There's a big white tent on the grass outside the rental office of Loudoun County's largest low-income community. Underneath, dozens of boys and girls are dancing and singing.

"One day I was walking, walking to the fair . . . . I spied a senorita with flowers in her hair," they sing in unison, clapping to the beat. In between verses, they sip fruit punch and nibble on granola bars served by young adults in bright purple T-shirts.

The party goes on, until that inevitable second when somebody "acts up." Then the servers, who are really camp counselors, take charge. And the party-goers, who are young campers ages 6 to 12, listen.

That's the rule at the new day camp for Loudoun House children -- fun tempered with discipline and organization. The camp, sponsored by five local groups, is the first summer-long youth activity on the Loudoun House property, a community where parents have long bemoaned the lack of things for their children to do. The Loudoun House pool has been closed for years because it needs repairs, and many children don't have the necessary transportation to get to libraries, parks or community centers.

"Transportation {for the Loudoun House camp} is not a problem here," said Janet Perry, the camp's director and president of Positive Youth Works, one of the sponsoring groups. "And if there's an emergency, parents are close by."

Perry said that the community was so hungry for an activity of this type that she filled the camp in less than an hour of registration. About 90 percent of the children live at Loudoun House. The rest live in neighboring apartments. Camp is free for every child.

Perry and her staff of teenagers and young adults supervise 64 children each weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Every moment is taken up by playground activities, nature hikes, arts and crafts or swimmimg. Perry circles the camp area, the tent, the playground, quizzing counselors to make sure every camper is accounted for.

"What's going on here?" Perry asked counselor Sonia Pendleton, a sophomore at Northern Virginia Community College.

Pendleton eyes several groups of campers: "They're going to play volleyball," she says, pointing, "and they're going to look for clues {for a treasure hunt}. And Tony's group is chillin' {relaxing} right now," she concludes, indicating several children talking on the grass.

"Are they in trouble?" Perry asks.

"I don't think so," Pendleton replies.

That's that, but three seconds later, Perry spies a youngster walking in the hall alone.

"Jason, where are you going?" she demands.

"I'm going to get a ball to play with," the tot replies.

"Okay," she says. A few minutes later, Jason emerges with his ball, and she smiles at him.

Sponsoring organizations are Positive Youth Works, which provides tutoring and mentors for children; the Loudoun YMCA; 4-H; the management of Loudoun House; and the Leesburg Department of Parks and Recreation. The cost of camp, including equipment, food and transportation, will come to about $20,000 this summer. Some of that will come from a United Way grant obtained by the YMCA and from the Loudoun Department of Social Services. The sponsoring organizations will cover the rest.

The idea for the camp was Perry's. As president of Positive Youth Works, she was spending two evenings a week at Loudoun House for tutoring sessions, and recognized the need for some organized activity. As a trial, Positive Youth Works sponsored a week-long camp last summer. It was so successful, drawing 43 children on short notice, that she decided to approach other groups about a summer-long camp this year.

Perry says that "the basic thing is we want the kids to have fun," but she readily concedes there's a lot more to camp than that. By the time the summer ends, the children will have participated in a stress workshop and a self-esteem workshop, conducted by county mental health officials. They will also hear safety tips and a talk from local police about the importance of school work and avoiding drugs and alcohol.

Every day, Perry says, she and her counselors try to impart lessons of their own.

"Learning to get along with others, that's one of the goals we've been working on this past week," she said. "Learning to play together and share, and find positive means of solving differences."

If an argument erupts, she or a counselor will take the involved campers aside and help them talk out their feelings, she said.

"One thing I notice with a lot of the kids is that their way of dealing with any situation is through anger . . . but it's getting better," Perry said. "We've been able to sit down and work with them."