Camp Fire camps will be open at two sites this summer

FORT WORTH -- The local Camp Fire council will run two camps this year for the popular Camptivity summer event, a year after the organization nearly had to pack up and move from the grounds of the Lockheed Martin Recreation Association.

One camp will be on the grounds of the recreation association.

The other will be on a church site near Eagle Mountain Lake.

The location of Camptivity had been in question after the association announced in June that it would sell 40 acres at the site in west Fort Worth.

The site, still up for sale, is slated for redevelopment. It is off Bryant Irvin Road between the Trinity River and the historic Edwards Ranch.

Lockheed's recreation area has fitness facilities, a ranch house, softball fields, picnic and pavilion areas, a playground and an Olympic-size swimming pool. Camp Fire's Camptivity Day Camp has been held there for about 13 years, said Lisa Cook, vice president of outdoor programs for Camp Fire USA First Texas Council.

"Essentially, of course, when we became aware [of the sale], we had lots of concerns, as did a lot of our parents," Cook said. "We've been a partner with LMRA for a lot of years. But we worked together and got to the point that we became comfortable that we'd be able to use the facility this summer."

Joe Stout, spokesman for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said that when Lockheed decided to keep the pool open for another year, it allowed Camptivity to remain this summer.

Camptivity is a traditional day camp that runs from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and teaches children swimming, archery, hiking, fishing, and other sports and games.

Camptivity's site at the recreation area draws about 160 children per week for 11 weeks of camp.

Organizers also hope to attract about 30 children per week at a second site, Lyle Lodge on Eagle Mountain Lake in Azle.

That site was secured through a partnership with First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth.

Organizers hope the two camps combined will attract more than 2,000 children.

Cook said it was parent Lisa Laswell who floated the idea about Lyle Lodge.

Laswell, communications director for First United Methodist Church, has a son, Gage, 9, who has attended Camptivity for about four years.

Laswell said church leadership had discussed the partnership for months and approved and finalized the plans in March.

"We are thrilled to partner with Camp Fire USA this summer," said Tim Bruster, senior pastor. "Finding ways to reach out to families with children in our community is so important. FUMC and Camp Fire USA's goals are the same: to provide families safe and fun programs to help their children to grow."

Laswell said that the church's Lyle Lodge property is used often throughout the year and that church leadership saw the potential for an added use through the Camp Fire partnership.

"Although the lodge is not in Fort Worth proper, they [Camp Fire] wanted to have an outreach to that part of the county," Laswell said. "We are thrilled we worked it out."

Laswell described Camptivity as a vital part of summer.

"It is a fun and safe summertime outlet for our children," Laswell said. "It's one of the favorite things that my son does in the summer."

Stout said the Lockheed Martin Recreation Association hopes that interest in the property will increase as the real estate market improves. But he is glad that Camptivity will take place at the recreation area this summer.

"We're pleased that the facility can continue to be a service in the community," Stout said.

ELIZABETH ZAVALA, 817-390-7418