FORT MILL — In just a few days under the sun, Fort Mill resident Daniel White, 16, became a leader.
White, a rising junior at Nation Ford High School, has participated in Nation Ford’s U.S. Marine Corps junior ROTC Leadership and Adventure Camp for two years, first as a camper then last year as a counselor.
LEAD camp, which will run July 14 to 18, is led by junior ROTC cadets, but is open to all rising sixth- through ninth-graders.
As a camper during his first summer at LEAD camp, White learned from his older peers how to shoot an arrow, fish and build a fire. He said the counselors were dedicated to helping their campers become better leaders.
“They made sure we had the best time possible,” White said. “It’s a very well thought out camp. It gives cadets something structured and fun to do.”
As a LEAD camp counselor last year, White used his LEAD and junior ROTC skills to help his campers.
“I taught them how to take initiative and have enthusiasm for what they are doing,” he said. “They enjoyed all the activities we did and put 100 percent into every one.”
White will be a counselor again this year.
The LEAD camp is one summer camp offered through the Fort Mill School District this summer. Others include boys’ lacrosse and the Little Jacket Cheer Camp at Fort Mill High School and dance camp and youth football at Nation Ford High School.
Summer camps give children a chance to learn from their peers and help support similar activities throughout the school year, said Kelly McKinney, media and communications officer for the Fort Mill School District.
“Camp gives them instant friendships within the community,” she said. “It’s a nice opportunity for parents to support these various organizations within the school district in a different way.”
The LEAD camp helps support Nation Ford High School’s rifle and drill teams, providing funds for travel costs, equipment and competitions, said Col. Sean Mulcahy, senior Marine instructor for Nation Ford High School junior ROTC.
This will be 10th LEAD camp in the six years since the camp started, Mulcahy said. So far, he said the camp has been successful in fostering sportsmanship, patriotism and leadership.
“We plant the seed for what makes a good leader,” he said.
Many of the rising freshmen who attend the camp join junior ROTC and return each summer, Mulcahy said. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” he said.
LEAD camp relies on counselors teaching their younger peers what it means to be a leader, Mulcahy said. “It’s an opportunity for the counselors to put to use what they have been studying,” he said. “I’m very proud of the cadets who are running it.”
Hannah Ross, 14, found a passion for taking aim during Springfield Middle School’s Are You Hungry for Some Archery Camp, which she first attended in sixth grade.
“As soon as you shoot your first arrow, you’re hooked on it,” she said.
The archery camp, which is in its third year, will have two sessions July 14-18. The camp is open to all rising fifth- through eighth-graders.
Archery campers have the opportunity to learn Olympic style archery from certified archery instructors and their peers, said John Barrow, teacher and archery coach at Springfield Middle School.
“It’s an opportunity to work with their younger classmates and teach them about the sport they love,” he said.
The archery camp helps provide funds for the Springfield Middle School Archery Club and Team, the Mustangs, which Barrow has coached for five years. Before coming to the middle school, Barrow coached the Springfield Elementary Archery Team for three years.
Between the two schools, the archery teams have won five state championships, Barrow said.
Ross, a rising freshman at Nation Ford High School, said the camp helped her develop her skills as an archer and as a leader. By seventh grade, Ross was helping the younger campers hit their targets.
“One of the best ways to help ourselves improve is to teach it,” Ross said.
Ross also joined the Springfield Middle School archery team as a sixth-grader in 2012, the year the team won its third South Carolina State Championship in a row, Barrow said.
That same year, Ross also won the girls’ individual South Carolina State Championship in the elementary division, in which sixth-graders compete, Barrow said. Ross placed 13th nationally and the team placed 27th. Her eighth grade year, Ross placed fourth in the state and the team placed third.
“It’s a great learning experience,” Ross said.
The archery camp takes place in the Springfield Middle School gym. The camp includes games and indoor activities, Barrow said.
“It’s the coolest place to be on a summer afternoon,” he said. “We are constantly having a good time.”