'HopeFest' unites musicians and community to benefit children’s camps

Mar. 07, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

HopeFest is a brand new “grass roots” event bringing together popular Christian musicians, churches, community businesses and other friends to benefit the boys and girls living at Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina’s (BCH) Cameron Boys Camp and Camp Duncan. The catalyst for the May 25th festival, an event that is becoming large in scope, was the simple reconnection of two friends.

Michael Chandler and Paula (last name withheld for privacy), like many longtime friends, lost touch over time. It had been at least 25 years since the duo had spoken until they recently reconnected on Facebook.

“Paula and I were catching up with each other on the phone, and she began to tell me the story of Camp Duncan,” explains Michael Chandler, who lives in Fayetteville. “As she shared, she told me about her daughter, Kelsey. The things I heard broke my heart.”

Chandler was saddened to learn that Kelsey (last name withheld) had been abused by a close family member. Paula, a single mother who was also abused as a child, tried to comfort Kelsey, but her daughter’s pain was too great. Paula and Kelsey found the help they desperately needed at Camp Duncan — an outdoor residential program for girls that helps families overcome difficult challenges.

Located in Moore County, Camp Duncan for girls and Cameron Boys Camp are not summer programs. Instead, the two camps offer a unique, wilderness program where children, who come from all over the state, live year-round in campsites with counselors known as “chiefs.” Camp’s social work staff and counselors provide a structured environment, as well as a licensed alternative education program, to promote the emotional healing of children while helping restore their family relationships.

Kelsey lived at Camp Duncan for a year-and-a-half to help her overcome her personal pain. During that time, Camp’s staff worked with the mother and daughter together to help them heal as a family. Kelsey successfully completed Camp in January 2013 and returned home to live with her mother.

As Chandler and Paula continued to catch-up with one another, he became fascinated by Camp Duncan and its life-changing ministry.

“I made a visit to Camp and saw God doing His wonderful work. I met the staff and the girls. Once I saw how it was helping the families involved, I was completely sold.”

With a background in organizing successful events in the Fayetteville area, Chandler wanted to use his expertise to help. He went to his pastor, James Baker of Carroll Memorial Baptist, to share the vision for an event to cultivate support for the camps. Chandler and Paula also brought the idea to camp staff. Out of all the discussions, HopeFest was born.

HopeFest is slated for Saturday, May 25, at The Village Arboretum in Pinehurst. The Moore County community event will feature a day of live music and family fun that includes performances from Christian artists 33 Miles, Gold City, The Anchormen, Rapture Road, Jason Bullock and Larry Chason. A silent auction and a BBQ cook-off — where church groups cook and compete against each other — round out the event. The proceeds that the group raises will go to help the two wilderness camps provide for the needs of the children and families served.

“It’s going to be a big deal,” says Chandler. “There’s great energy coming from the people of Moore County to make this event happen.”

HopeFest is produced by a committee of residents from the Moore County area and chaired by Carolyn Helms. Helms serves on the board of Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst and is married to David M. Helms, pastor of First Baptist Church in Southern Pines. HopeFest committee members are busy making sure their event will be a great success.

“I hope we’ll accomplish bringing good awareness about the camps to people in Moore County and that they’ll become involved,” says Chandler.

The HopeFest committee is looking for sponsors, volunteers, silent auction donors and church groups to participate in the BBQ cook-off. To learn more, visit www.hopefestnc.org. You can also contact HopeFest committee chair Carolyn Helms at (910) 692-2632 and HopeFest sponsorship chair Karen Wood at (919) 718-6812.

Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that provides residential programs and services to North Carolina children and families throughout 18 statewide communities. Children come to Baptist Children’s Homes from situations ranging from family dysfunction to situations of abuse, neglect and abandonment. Learn more about BCH’s residential wilderness camps at www.cameronboyscamp.org and www.campduncanNC.org.