The energetic campers seemed oblivious to the fact that the thermometer was hovering around the century mark well before noon. After all, they had found countless ways to forget about the heat.
Nearly 30 heads bobbed up and down in Langley Pond. Back on the beach, 11-year-old Jordan Frick, of Warrenville, dug in the sand. Ashley Platt, 11, also of Warrenville, was covered with the white stuff from her neck to her toes.
Ashley, who will be in the seventh grade at Leavelle McCampbell Middle School this fall, was participating in her first Coca-Cola Kids Camp last week.
"My best friend, Olivia, told me about it. She said, "It's really great." Ashley agreed.
"It's fun. You get to build sand castles," she said. "You get to build yourself, I guess."
The camp, which was started in 2000, is offered free of charge to children 6 to 12. In addition to Coca-Cola, the camp is sponsored by Security Federal Bank and Bridgestone/Firestone.
The half-day summer camp sites rotate among Aiken County parks each week.
Olivia King, 11, of Warren-ville, said the camp at Langley Pond park was her favorite because she could go swimming. The rising Leavelle McCampbell seventh-grader said she found a foolproof way to enjoy the camps.
"I usually bring my friends with me," she said as she poured another bucket of sand on Ashley.
Olivia's stepsister, Kourtney King, 8, who will be a third-grader at Warrenville Elementary School this fall, said they have been coming to the camps for several years.
Each day, the children participate in sports, games and an educational session.
Representatives from the Aiken Center for Alcohol and Drug Services talk to the campers about substance abuse. Security Federal employees teach them about banking and handling money.
Mental health representatives also meet with the children.
"They talk about having good self-esteem and violence prevention," said Emily Langston, an Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department assistant director.
In addition, she said, someone from the Aiken County Historical Museum tells the children what school was like 150 years ago.
An Aiken County Department of Juvenile Justice representative discusses actions and consequences with the campers.
Kyler Childs, 11, of North Augusta, who will be in sixth grade at Paul Knox Middle School this fall, is a fan of the camp.
"It's great," he said. "We get to have fun and do exercises."
Counselor Uchenna Fau-muina-Eze, a physical education and recreation administration major at Southern Virginia University, wanted the campers to learn about teamwork and friendship and to explore new things.
Mr. Faumuina-Eze also liked the idea that the camps are free.
"Instead of No Child Left Behind, let's have camps for every kid in America," he said.
Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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