Community leaders take part in torch ceremony

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Greenville’s biggest community leaders are metaphorically and literally passing the torch to the county’s youth, courtesy of the Dunbar Summer Day Camp.

In keeping with this year’s United States of America trend, the week’s theme was the Olympics.

Appropriately, the camp kicked off Monday with a series of torchbearers taking the flame from Dunbar Park to the nearby Dunbar Community Center, with a little help from some familiar faces.

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“I tried to get people that were inspirational in our young people’s lives,” said Summer Day Camp director Deirdre Womack. “And so we ended up with the superintendent of the Butler County School System, principals of various schools and Jerome Harris, who is the director of Parks and Recreation for the city.”

Superintendent Darren Douthitt kicked off the relay from the origin point with a quick sprint to Greenville Elementary School principal Bryant Marlow, who in turn carried the torch to Greenville Middle School principal Curtis Black.

Greenville High School principal Joseph Dean also contributed in the final stretch and, lastly, Harris carried out the ceremonial lighting of the torch back at the Dunbar Community Center.

Two campers aided each torchbearer by making the run alongside them, and the entire camp cheered the runners on from the sideline.

Womack added that their support for the morning’s events was important to her, but it was infinitely more meaningful for the campers themselves.

“It was just awesome, because that lets our young people know that not only are they interested in their education, but they’re interested in them as a whole person,” Womack said.

But Monday was only the beginning to the Olympics-themed festivities.

Various competitions are being held this week among the campers, complete with medals to the victors, which represent the spirit of the Olympics.

Older campers will participate in more traditional events like relays and footraces, while the younger kids are given more lighthearted activities, such as obstacle courses and balloon-popping contests.

But the week’s activities aren’t limited to merely strengthening the body, but also the mind.

Campers have also been given history lessons on the importance of the Olympics in cultures around the world.

Today at 1 p.m., former Olympic torchbearer Caleb Gardner is bringing his torch and other Olympics-related memorabilia for an informative lesson at the Dunbar Community Center.

The USA theme comes to an end on August 1 with a culminating event that integrates lessons that the campers learned throughout the summer experience.

There will be a game show, with contestants answering questions based on United States history.

Also, campers will assume the roles of historical figures such as John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Barack and Michelle Obama and Martin Luther King Jr., and each will present a small historical fact.

They will also sing patriotic songs, recite the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble, and more.

And most impressively of all, they’ll do it without any help from adults.

“This is very much the campers’ own event,” Womack said. “They will serve as the masters of ceremony and they’ll do it all.”