A summer camp that started 55 years ago as a youth ministry of Gahanna Community Church is still going strong.

A summer camp that started 55 years ago as a youth ministry of Gahanna Community Church is still going strong.

Today, however, Constructing Assured and Motivated People (CAMP) is an independent program for youth entering grades 6-12 and for 2011 graduates.

This year's camp will be held Aug. 7-13 at Tar Hollow State Park, southeast of Circleville.

Camp participants are offered a variety of activities, sleep in log cabins with at least one counselor per seven campers and enjoy meals and some programs in a large rustic lodge.

Former Gahanna residents Janny and Dave (Boonie) Brizius have served as directors since the camp's inception.

Janny Brizius said the Rev. John Selvey married her and her husband, and he asked them to become the congregation's new junior youth-group sponsors in 1956. They would offer a summer camp for youth as a result.

The couple's son, David Brizius, who is known as "Fireman Dave" as the Mifflin Township fire-prevention officer, is the camp's program director. His wife, Tina, is the camp administrator.

"Camp was a success from the start, though we realized that the little community church just did not have enough campers to keep the program going, so we invited the Mifflin Presbyterian Church, the Peace Lutherans, etc., to send their young people if they'd like," Janny Brizius said. "They liked it, and actually many of their adults joined in as well, serving as staff. The camp sort of became the Gahanna community's camp, not just the community church's camp."

While the camp is completely independent of church affiliation, she said, it's still very much spiritually centered. Morning Watch, chapel and vespers are brief worship experiences that are held daily and are interdenominational in nature.

Youth also have the opportunity to boat, fish and swim in a 15-acre lake, which also has a new waterslide.

More than 20 different classes are available, including archery, crafts, sports and photography. Evening programs include a talent night, a cabin stunt night and a themed party that senior campers present for the junior campers.

"We've stayed involved because camp was the single, most important element in our lives, except for our own family," Brizius said. "Our lives revolved around the camp, as it did the lives of so many young people who, after outgrowing camper age, wanted to return to pay back what they had received as youth."

Mike Mahan began attending camp in 1978 as a youth, and he has served on staff for about 25 years.

"The staff is completely volunteer, and each pays their own transportation cost to come to camp for the week," he said. "The camp has received several awards and accolades throughout the years from Parents magazine, two Ohio governors, three Gahanna mayors and President George H.W. Bush."

Others who grew up at the camp and return as volunteer staff include firefighters, school teachers, college professors, business owners, waiters and waitresses and hospital staff, as well as others from many different walks of life. Many of them are from central Ohio, but they also come from other states including Missouri, Wisconsin, Georgia and Alaska.

The camp usually averages about 125 campers and 80 staff members, Mahan said.

Cost for the one-week camp is $215 per person and includes meals, snacks, supplies, a camp photo, a T-shirt and a camp yearbook.

To register or for more information, visit www.sfacamp.org or email tbrizius@sfacamp.org.