Encouraging kids through camp: Dan Fritts

Published: Jun. 29, 2016 at 4:28 PM CDT
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Each month we shine the spotlight on one person who goes above and beyond in our Eleven Who Care series. This month, that person is Dan Fritts, a man who spends his summers finding new ways to encourage kids to be their best selves.

By trade, Dan Fritts is a physical therapist. But every summer, he works on therapy of a different sort. Fritts directs Camp Eagle Ridge in Collinsville.

"We want our kids to succeed," he says. "We just felt that we see these kids with so much talent and so much potential, yet some of them have more difficulties and challenges than others."

He started the camp in 2011. Each day more than 100 kids are out playing and having a good time, while being encouraged by a batch of about 20 teenage counselors who watch over the children. Fritts says the benefit is two-fold.

"When I was young, when I had young kids look upon me, it made me feel like a million dollars," he says. "It gives these kids an opportunity to experience things they may not have experienced before."

There's no shortage of things to do. There's wall climbing, zip lining, rope climbing, horseback riding, target shooting, crafts and more.

"We have a 40 foot climbing apparatus where kids go up and it scares the bejeegers out of them. It's fantastic. We love it," Fritts says. "Through such activities, we are hoping to instill in them that each one of them has unique gifts, talents that they can contribute within themselves."

It takes a lot of cogs to make this machine work, but Fritts says it's incredible to watch it all come together.

"It's beautiful. It's like a symphony. It's like an orchestra. There's a lot of moving parts, and let's be honest, people can get hurt out here, but when you have volunteers, teenagers, kids, they're all on the same page, and it's just like a nice piece of music."

If you'd like to nominate someone for 11 Who Care, you can use the form attached to this story.