Meridian Star

November 1, 2013

Camp for inner city kids gets huge donation

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — By Brian Livingston

    Camp Eagle Ridge is seeing its dreams rise farther and farther into the sky with the help of some friends in the local community.

    Thursday morning, Dan Fritts, who is the man that has taken a dream and a barren piece of land east of Collinsville to a rapidly growing camp for inner city kids, watched as a Mississippi Power crew strung cables across large expanses of space between massive power poles for the High Ropes Challenge platform.

    "This is a just beyond my expectations," Fritts said as he watched the cables go up. "This will take the camp to the next level."

    Tommy Jackson, the foreman of the Mississippi Power crew, was talking with Fritts one day when the idea was hatched. Jackson said the donation from Thomason Pole Company in Philadelphia really sealed the deal, making the dream of a high rope challenge a reality.

    "We live and work in this community so to be able to help Dan with this was a great thing for us," Jackson said. "We think what Dan has here is a good thing for the kids and we just wanted to help in any way we could."

    Camp Eagle Ridge was begun a little more than three years ago. Fritts said it has always been his dream since working as a missionary years ago to bring something to Lauderdale County to help teach inner city kinds of Meridian important life lessons, while at the same time providing them with activities to which they would not normally be exposed.

    "We are all about teaching things such as trust, responsibility, character, all those things we need in the world today," Fritts said. "The best way to do that is through activities that brings out the best in everyone."

    The platforms will be 30 feet from the ground and attached with strong cables. Fritts said the lessons taught on those platforms, the bonds they will make and the trust the exercise will bring forth in the children will be invaluable as the kids get older.

    For three days the crew has worked setting the poles, building the first primary platform and stretching the cables that will be used by the children. Fritts said the camp, which began in the middle of a blistering summer on a small strip of bare land, has grown to become a place where young people can grow from the inside out.

    "We have been blessed that there have been people who have shared our vision," Fritts said. "It is remarkable to see your dream that is shared with others, become a reality. Just couldn't do this without the caring people such as Mississippi Power and Randy Deweese at Thomason Pole Company."