BLUE GRASS, Iowa - Camp Abe Lincoln is a place where kids can be kids.
This Necker's Gift of Giving features 250 acres in rural Blue Grass that serves about a thousand kids every year.
"At camp, everyone is nice," said Raymond Freeman, on November 17, 2016. "There's no judging at camp. You can be who you want to be at camp."
Freeman, 19, should know. He started camping there at age five, returned each summer and eventually became a counselor.
"We try to teach the kids four core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility," he said.
Important lessons these days in a complicated world for youngsters.
Operated by Scott County Family Y, Camp Abe Lincoln continues to reach out after nearly a century of service.
"It's life-changing," said Associate Director Alex Clark.
From start to finish, she sees the changes in her campers each session.
"The don't have their phone or their iPad," she said. "When they leave, they are exchanging numbers with their cabin mates they just met five days ago."
It offers a variety of formats and settings. As always, there are activities and adventures. It's a time to encourage and explore.
A portion of sales at Necker's will help Camp Abe Lincoln.
There's complete information about programs at http://www.ymcacampabelincoln.org.
"If you cannot afford it, we have scholarship programs and grants to give out," Freeman said. "We will never turn a child away from camp because they didn't turn me away."
These lessons in the great outdoors become assignments about life. The sessions create lasting memories.
"We hope that when kids go back to school - if they see someone getting picked on, they help that kid and try to make a difference," Clark said.
It's a difference to guide the future.
"Camp is just going to get bigger and better every year," Freeman concluded. "Every year, there's something new."
For kids and adults, there's something new at Camp Abe Lincoln.