Outdoor Stewardship: Camp Kamassa secures funding for special needs mission

Published 3:11 pm Monday, June 26, 2023

CRYSTAL SPRINGS — One of the first projects receiving funding from the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Fund is a special needs camp in Copiah County. Camp Kamassa secured $150,000 in funding to go towards improving recreation and fishing opportunities for handicapped children and adults of Mississippi. 

Camp Kamassa is run by the Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation to provide recreational and educational outdoor opportunities for people with special needs. Serving all 82 counties in Mississippi, the camp is located 30 minutes from Children’s of Mississippi hospital and is in a central part of the state. 

The project receiving funding from the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund will construct fishing access piers and a canoe dock designed for use by handicapped and special needs people. Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust reported 2,500 guests are expected to visit Camp Kamassa annually once the camp is finished. 

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The Kelly Gene Cook Foundation will match with additional funding of $100,000. Tanya Mohawk, a director of development for Camp Kamassa, said the funding would help them reach their goal of finishing the camp which broke ground in 2018. 

“We are thrilled. We will use the funding to build the lakeside facility. It is just a tiny portion of a major project,” Mohawk said. “We will be primarily a summer camp facility but will be open year round. With 426 acres, 14 cabins, activity buildings and an infirmary, we will have archery and horseback riding. Everything at the facility will be fully handicapped accessible.” 

Last summer, the lake at Camp Kamassa was built. She said they plan to be able to rent out the facility to help bring in revenue when campers are not there. A general store and agritourism area at the front of the property will help bring in additional revenue to ensure campers do not have to pay for camp. Construction has not started yet on the general store or pumpkin patch but will soon. The agri-tourism area will also feature a corn maze and Christmas tree farm. 

Mohawk said the Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund would help the camp open sooner. The fishing piers would enable the camp to host annual fishing rodeos instead of using other facilities. Mohawk said they stocked their lake with catfish and bass last Tuesday in addition to minnows and bream. 

A building site has been set aside for a chapel, there is a planned equestrian center, an indoor activity center will feature wood working, pottery and multimedia and a turf multi-purpose sports field is planned. Mohawk said they will have an amphitheater and a zipline over a creek. She said everything has been carefully planned and thought out to be handicapped accessible by their founder Mary Kitchens and other staff members. 

Camp Kamassa has naming opportunities on buildings and cabins if people are businesses are interested in giving to the camp. People can donate their time or money to the camp. 

Mohawk said they also get help from the military in completing construction projects. Right now, they have a group of about 25 soldiers from Minnesota helping build as part of their training. Camp Kamassa’s partnership with the military has saved them from $5 million in labor. 

Companies like AT&T and Southwest Electric have donated time, money and supplies to help build the campground. Camp Kamassa, a Choctaw word for tough or persevere, is nearing completion but Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation is still carrying on their mission outside of the camp.  

“We try to do a lot for special needs even though our camp is not up and running. We hope at the end of next year to be open,” Mohawk said. “We need to get our swimming pool built and have funding now for the facility. We hope by next year to be to the point where we could host and operate. The completed product will take time but our urgency is to get campers out there.” 

Contact Camp Kamassa at 601-892-1117 or email mtk@mtkfound.com if you are interested in how you can help.