Twenty-one youngsters loaded onto a bus early Sunday morning at the Elks Lodge to head to Marion County for a week at the Florida Elks Youth Camp.
Jo DeShaw, Elks member, was one of two chaperons that traveled four hours to Umatilla with the youngsters Sunday morning.
"The Elks is doing this for them because they believe in the younger generation and it is a good way to spend the summer time," she said.
Twenty-one Pine Island kids boarded a bus early Sunday morning, thanks to the Elks Lodge, to go away to camp for a week.
The kids and parents both shared excitement, along with a little celebration that morning. As the bus left the parking lot of the Elks lodge around 8 a.m. the children's excitement grew about camp as the parents cheered that they had a kids' free week.
Mitzi and Scott Sanders had two of their youngsters take the bus to camp.
"We really appreciate the Elks sponsoring transportation and getting the kids together beforehand," Scott said.
His wife Mitzi agreed, saying it was nice for the Elks to sponsor the bus.
As their two children enjoy a week of camp, the parents were going to enjoy some quite time without the kids.
"Looking forward to peace and quiet," Scott said.
Mitzi said they are also going to enjoy playing golf while the kids are away.
This is the first year their daughter and son are going to the camp.
The Florida Elks Youth Camp opened in 1991 as a project of the Florida State Elks Association. The week long camp begins Sunday afternoon and ends Saturday after breakfast for kids between the ages of 9-13 years old.
Aury Player, 10, attended the camp for the first time last year and said she had a lot of fun. When asked what her one favorite thing to do while at camp, she said she had three.
Aury enjoyed staying in the cabin with some of her friends, along with hanging out at the lake.
"It's really cool, you get to go canoeing and kayaking," she said.
She also enjoyed the water day because of the boys-versus-girls water war.
Aury was excited to be attending the camp for the second year in a row.
The camp is located on 385 acres of hills, forests, lakes and a lot of open space for the youngsters. The recreational sleep- away camp provides them with face-to-face time with counselors and other kids their age without electronic devices.
The camp has lakes that the children can paddleboard, canoe and catch and release largemouth bass, along with a 15,000- square-foot pavilion, gymnasium with three full length basketball courts, an aquatic complex and a ropes course. Some of the activities they participate in while at camp include soccer, football, kickball, capture the flag, horseshoe golf, arts and crafts, swimming and archery.
David Tippin, 12, was excited for the bus to leave Sunday morning because it was his first time going away to camp. He said he is looking forward to the bon fire while at camp.
The property also contains a lodge that sleeps nine youngsters and one counselor. The lodge is equipped with air conditioning, heat, as well as personal storage facilities and restrooms with hot showers.
DeShaw will travel back to the Florida Elks Youth Camp Saturday morning to pick up the kids and bring them back to Pine Island. They are expected to return between 2:30 p.m.-3 p.m.