Camp Kiwanilong is among the top youth activities on the North Coast in terms of loyalty and enthusiasm. Campers come from far and wide to partake in classic summer activities from late June through early August, having enormous fun while building a valuable repertoire of life experiences.

Hundreds of families participate in the ritual of dropping off children on Sunday and collecting them – mosquito-bitten, rumpled and overbrimming with happiness – the following Saturday. As Nancy McCarthy described in our story last week, “Thousands of youngsters have spent countless hours there, singing songs around a campfire, swimming, canoeing, hiking, making crafts, eating home-cooked meals, playing soccer – everything campers can do in a weeklong camp.”

Clatsop County has been commendably helpful in leasing the 287-acre site for $1 a year to the nonprofit group now headed by popular longtime director Deborah “Sparky” Vail. It’s impossible to conceive of a better use for this sylvan setting originally acquired by the Kiwanis Club with just such a public-spirited motivation.

In these electronically saturated times, it’s particularly noteworthy that Camp Kiwanilong is free of cellphones and computers. For children and teens snared by the addictive hunger for constant connection and communication, camp is chance to personally recharge and learn that the deepest enjoyment comes from actively participating in real life.

It’s good news that the Lower Columbia Ford Institute Leadership team is helping mend and upgrade the camp’s Pioneer Shelter, damaged by the December 2007 typhoon and generally wearing out. The 18-hole disc golf tournament the leadership team sponsored Saturday helped raise money for the project. In addition, contributions can be sent to Camp Kiwanilong at P.O. Box 128, Warrenton, OR 97146. Be sure to note that the money is going to the Pioneer Shelter renovation. Donations may be tax-deductible.

Summer camps bask in a golden nostalgic glow, but as Camp Kiwanilong demonstrates, they also continue to play a vital role in building confidence and friendships among the adults of the future. It’s great to see grownups, kids and teens work together on this long-term investment in healthy living.

For registration information, visit http://campkiwanilong. org/