Sometimes you just get a little ahead of yourself. Movement forward on the Forcht Wade has ceased. We cannot say if it is just for now, or for good. Time will tell. In our minds, it is still a very exciting opportunity, but we have had other very exciting opportunities pop up in the last three months that still fulfill our overall objective: teaching kids good manners! We have had tremendous growth in our in-school programming, and it will be an exciting busy year for 650 student in five different Caddo schools this coming 2018-2019 school year. To find out more about that part of Surfari Pals, hop on over to SurfariPals.org. We will see you there.
We do want to say that Camp Surfari itself does not solely depend on this particular location in Caddo Parish. It is very much still one of our top long-term goals.
Well. There it is. The thing that we've been working on for months, that has been revised and edited a dozen times, the thing that we wanted to quit and swore would never, ever, get finished, is finished. Honestly, it is a mixture of relieved and nervous. Now people will read it. Important people who will tell us "Yes, go start this camp!" or "No. You people have no idea what you are doing."
We can say this for sure, we have done the work, we have researched, reached out, reevaluated, and realigned our ideas, and there is nothing else we can say or do. We have talked to so many people sharing our vision of this camp. People are getting excited at the prospect of it. We are so anxious to get started, and scared of it at the same time. We are just two people who are fired up about having a camp where kids can come to and leave feeling loved, valued, empowered, and refreshed. A camp for ALL kids, regardless of economic ability. We have been meeting with commissioners one-at-a-time and hopefully we are getting closer to presenting the proposal for a vote. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.
Sometimes you are going along and something just jumps out at you. Something like red roses blooming is a sea of dead overgrowth. My first thoughts were, "Wow, talk about determined." Determination. Hope. Without determination how does hope stay alive, and without hope, why should you be determined to fight for something. We are determined to build a place of hope. Watch the video below to find out more.
OK. Now we are really excited! We have in hand the blueprint layout of the entire compound and the hospital. It is pretty cool! A bird's-eye view especially helps those of us who are not so visionary. We have had architects, engineers, environmental specialists, electricians, and the water company out the old place. We've taken dozens of friends and family members out to see it. Not a single person has said we are crazy. Darn. Am I (Jennifer) that only person who will say to my face that this project is nuts? Oh well, the crazy keeps me sane. haha
In all seriousness though, I have had to turn back to the very lessons we teach the children. Welborn the Whale encourages us to 'never give up, even when things seem too hard.' I have followed the advice of Amin the Albacore and set some goals for myself, and for Camp Surfari. I wrote them down where I can see them every day. Starting this website was one of my goals, and now, I get to cross that one off. Yay!!!
Much debate and listing of pros and cons went into the decision to make Camp Surfari a separate nonprofit, or keep it under the umbrella of Surfari Pals, Inc. In the end, we decided on the umbrella. The mission and purpose of Surfari Pals and Camp Surfari are the same. Surfari Pals teaches manners, etiquette, life skills and soft skills. Our goal is to give children the tools they need to become confident individuals who hold themselves to a high level of integrity and personal accountability. Whether we are doing this in a classroom, or during a week-long camp during the summer, we are ultimately "Teaching Kids Good Character!" The other most significant advantage to this plan is the financial savings. That means more funds will be used to serve the purpose and reach our goals.
When the task is bigger than yourself, but you are sure you are called to it, you feel crazy. But, to take that crazy task, and convince others to let you try and succeed at it, that's guts. Well, we must be pretty gutsy because, on October 2, 2017, we went to the Caddo Parish Board of Commissioners, and introduced the idea of them allowing us to turn an old prison into a summer camp for children. They didn't say 'no!' Whoo hoo! They did ask for quite a bit more information. Challenge accepted.
Forcht-Wade Correctional Center was a state prison facility in Louisiana. Forcht Wade Correctional Center was built on Caddo Drive in Keithville in the 1970's. In 1997, Caddo Parish gifted the facilities to the state of Louisiana. Then in 2012, budget cuts forced the state to close the prison, and after two years of sitting empty Forcht Wade automatically returned to Caddo Parish in 2014. This 122-acre property has sat vacant ever since. There are twenty-three buildings at approximately 148,000 sq ft total. They are all in desperate need of some refurbishing, and some just need to be demolished. While it is a monumental project, with each visit to the facility, we are surer of our plan. Ok, we decided to start the process. Now where to start?