Save Camp Friendship

I practice in a large pediatric group in Northern Virginia. My patients come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Yet they share a growing sedentary lifestyle, a diminishing experience with the natural world and an increasing risk of obesity, hypertension, ADHD and anxiety disorders.
Over the past 47 years, Camp Friendship has offered children an antidote to their sedentary, plugged in, urban lifestyle. As I walk through the camp on a given day, I see children jumping off the rope-swing into the lake, learning to kayak and making pottery. I watch them walk across camp, joking with new friends and not realizing that they are covering three miles a day just getting from place to place. I see them making up songs instead of playing video games, playing tennis rather than staring at iPads. And they do this in a safe environment, free of strangers, cars and pollution.
If Walker’s Ridge development is built, this experience will be impossible. Camp Friendship is dependent on its isolation. If 1,200 families live directly adjacent to the camp, nine-year-olds could not walk alone through the woods from gymnastics to the cafeteria. They would have to be escorted. Seven-year-olds could not sleep in unlocked cabins. The camp would have to build an eight foot wall around its perimeter and place an armed guard at the gate. Children might as well stay in D.C.
I ask the Board of Supervisors to consider what the loss of Camp Friendship would mean to the thousands of children who come from as close as Palmyra to as far as Egypt to attend the camp every year. Children need Camp Friendship more than ever. I sincerely hope Fluvanna County will preserve this experience for children for many years to come by denying the Walker’s Ridge Development.

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