Local News Archive
Print Issue: September 2, 1971
Camp Hallinan Ends Year
Where's the action been this summer? For about 750 disadvantaged kids from the Athens area it's been at Camp Hallinan, just up the road from downtown Athens.
Since the fourteenth of June, excited boys and girls have enlivened the 85-acre camp, and brought home with them new experiences from swimming to nature hikes, from the craft lodge to group activities such as basketball and overnight campouts, from building a dam with the beavers to sitting at the controls of a C-131 at Lockheed, from riding rafts at the camp lake to riding the Log Flume at Six Flags.
Camp Hallinan was started back in 1968 by the parishioners of St. Joseph's Church in Athens to meet a need -- a camping experience for 6- to 15-year-old disadvantaged kids.
In three years the whole city of Athens has become a part of the Camp Hallinan experience, involving housewives, church groups, Model Cities, the Community Chest, university professors, the mayor, professional people, police, workmen of every skill, doctors, nurses, and others all joining together in a truly remarkable display of community-wide support for the day camp for disadvantaged children.
This summer has been a tremendously significant summer for the camp. Under the capable direction of Mr. Brian Highfill, seminary student from the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the camp has added live animals (in cages, of course) to its nature trail, flags and poles, basketball courts, canoes, sailboats and many physical improvements as well. Central to the camp's life are the many teenagers from the area who volunteer their time and energy to spend day after day with the campers. Highfill, commenting in the Athens Daily News, stated, "We have a paid staff of key personnel, but without the volunteer young people to supplement the counselors, art director, waterfront director, and nature director, we just couldn't handle half of the children we now have at Camp Hallinan."
This year, the voluntary support went way beyond Athens, to Newington, Connecticut. Thirty teenagers, two priests, and two adults, chartered a bus from their home parish, Holy Spirit in Newington, and spent the last week of June through the Fourth of July working at the camp. Led by Father Goekler, the "kids from Newington" (as they came to be called in the Athens area) put a beach in at the camp lake and constructed a campfire area for overnights and special ceremonies. They finished the mission in Winder and entered into projects for the poor all over the city of Athens. But they fell in love with the kids at Camp Hallinan.
The eighty-five acres are quiet now. But plans are already being made for the summer of '72. The camp board is evaluating, dreaming, involving, looking forward and into the nine months of community involvement for opening day 1972. And '71 was a very good year.