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Last day of Camp UNITE encourages kids to stay drug free

By: Angela Sparkman, Erika Glover Email
By: Angela Sparkman, Erika Glover Email
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7-26-13

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Two former addicts shared how drugs affected their lives with students at Camp UNITE on Friday.

Joshua Huffman and Morgan George wrapped up the week-long camp on the University of the Cumberlands campus in Whitley County.

"Who I was created to be was completely altered when I decided to take that first pill," Huffman told the kids.

Joshua Huffman and Morgan George, friends since childhood in Pikeville, shared their stories of drug abuse and its effects. They even showed students George's scars from a stabbing he suffered due to drug abuse.

The two men survived years of addiction.

"I've buried twenty-seven of my friends. I've carried a lot of caskets," Huffman told the campers.

Huffman and George are clean now. They wanted to share their stories with the more than 200 kids at Camp UNITE.

"Drug addiction really ravaged my teenage years. I lost a lot of time, a lot of my education. I can't even remember a whole lot of being 16 and 17 years old just simply because of addiction," Huffman said.

"I want to share what I've been through to help other people so they won't make the same mistakes I made, especially young people," said George.

Huffman and George hope when the students go home to their communities, the students will remember their stories of drug abuse the next time they are around drugs and say no.

"I hope they realize there's something greater for them out there than drugs or alcohol," said George.

"Drug abuse robs of so much. Anything I can try to do to inspire people to live a sober life, I'm all about it," said Huffman.

Congressman Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky) also spoke to the students before they went home.

Camp UNITE ended on Friday afternoon.
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7-25-13

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Campers got "messy" on Thursday at Camp UNITE!

The University of the Cumberlands campus in Williamsburg turned into a slime pit and slip and slide for the annual "Outrageous and Field Games." The goal is to teach children to stay away from drugs.

The games had slime pits, human sundaes, eggs for whiffle ball, and slip and slide.

"It's absolutely crazy and a lot of fun. They get to cut loose and have some fun," said Jared Brown, counselor from Rockcastle County.

"It's fun. It's really fun!" said camper Mary Calton.

The games are messy but this is "clean" fun for campers who are there to escape from drugs in their communities.

"To connect with the kids and get out the word it's not cool to do drugs and there's a better way to life," said Brianna Phipps, counselor from Somerset.

"We just want kids to stay drug free and make something of themselves and be the best they can be," said Haleigh Bowling, counselor from Pike County.

More than 200 middle school students from twenty-five counties are at the camp. More than 100 teen counselors and adults are teaching them to stay off drugs.

"I want them to know that people really do care about them and they are loved," said Gabrielle Moore, counselor from Somerset.

Camp organizers say the students will always have the memories of the slime pit and mud pies, but they hope by doing this, they will also remember the message to stay off drugs.

"I'm going to remember everything that happens," said Calton.

"I hope they remember they can have fun other ways than drugs or alcohol," said Brown.

Camp UNITE wraps up on Friday with guest motivational speakers Josh Huffman and Morgan George. Congressman Hal Rogers will be there for the special awards ceremony.

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7-23-13

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - More than 200 students are spending their week at the University of the Cumberlands campus in Williamsburg for Operation UNITE’s 7th annual summer program.

WYMT's Erika Glover attended the opening ceremony and spoke with campers, counselors and UNITE officials.

All say this week is about showing kids you can have drug free fun.

Kara Canterbury is a camp counselor.

She says this week is about more than just having fun.

"Every single activity we do centers around how you can be drug free," said Canterbury.

For the next three days rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders, representing 25 eastern and southern counties, are learning what it means to be drug free.

"We help educate these kids that they can live a life drug free," said Canterbury. "That if they come from a family that's abused drugs before that they don't have to follow that same path."

There is no charge for campers and she says she is leading by example.

"I can show them that I've never done drugs and that it's easy. They can do it if they just decide to say no," said Canterbury.

This is Dan Smoot's first year as UNITE's president and CEO.

He says he would like everyone to leave with one message.

"That if you make proper choices and remain drug free life will be good," said Smoot.

Smoot says he hopes this camp continues to grow and is a model for other communities.


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