Emerald Youth Camp Week 2014

Alexis, 10, had never been fishing before. But by her third day in Emerald Youth Foundation's annual Camp Week, she had spent happy hours with a pole in Fort Loudon Lake and caught four fish.

Justin, age 8, did more than learn bike safety rules and how to adjust his bike and helmet during Emerald Youth Camp Week. He also rode greenway trails across Knoxville and pedaled to a picnic at World's Fair Park.

Teiana, 8, served as mayor of Knoxville at Junior Achievement BizTown. She gave a live television interview that was broadcast throughout the camp.

Caden, age 11, made “blubber” insulation for his hands with shortening during Emerald Youth Camp Week. The science experiment, conducted before plunging his hands into ice water, was a rousing success. The wonderfully gooey shortening blocked the chill. “I barely felt the cold at all,” he said.

The occasion was Emerald Youth Camp Week, sponsored June 16-20 by Variety of Eastern Tennessee. About 225 urban children attended the camps Monday through Thursday and concluded the week with a Friday trip to the Knoxville Zoo.

The 11 camps, which included Outdoor Adventures, Cooking, Gardening, Biking, Science and Cheering, were located at sites including Lenoir City Park, New Harvest Park, Safety City, Junior Achievement BizTown in Clinton, and a host of local churches.

The children also spent a fun-filled day at the Knoxville Zoo compliments of Variety. Each child received a tee shirt, lunch, a carousel ride and spending money.

“We look forward to this event all year,” said Carol Fusco, executive director of Variety of Eastern Tennessee, which has sponsored camp week and the zoo trip for the last several years. “We like just seeing the faces of the children. Plus, we enjoy watching them grow up.”

Emerald Youth Camp Week is a pull-the-stops-out festival of fun for all involved. This year, with the help of local health and fitness professionals, it also emphasized good lifestyle choices and plenty of physical activity.

A case in point was the hugely popular All-American Sports Camp, which offered expert coaching and playing time in volleyball, basketball and soccer, plus a range of gym activities.

Twin brothers Yair and Jonathan, age 9, loved sports camp. "It was really fun," Yair said.

Other groups making camp week possible were the Coalition Against Chilhood Obesity, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Fulton High School Athletics, City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation, Knox County Parks and Recreation, Premier Athletics, Youth Spiritual Outdoor Adventures and Knoxville Force.