EXCHANGE: Fund makes camp experience possible for brothers
Aug. 15, 2017
DEKALB, Ill. (AP) — Playing with paintball guns for the first time was 10-year-old Guicho Martinez's favorite part of Walcamp, and he seemed to take to the activity quite well. In his last match, he was only hit twice.
"That's the least I've ever been shot," Guicho said.
His brother, 6-year-old Eli Martinez, was more interested in playing at camp than talking about it. He gushed about games like ga-ga ball and swimming in the lake, then was quick to give his fellow campers the slip in a game of capture the flag the morning of July 27.
The Martinez brothers, who both attend West Elementary School in Sycamore, spent a week at Walcamp Outdoor Ministries and Retreat Center in Kingston through the Maria Ridulph Memorial Fund.
They are the second pair of siblings to be selected by the fund, which was established in 2015 to honor 7-year-old Maria Ridulph, who was kidnapped and killed in 1957. Maria was a second-grader at West Elementary at the time.
The fund receives a portion of the proceeds from Charles Lachman's book, "Footsteps in the Snow," which chronicles Maria's disappearance and the subsequent investigation, as well as all proceeds from "The Impact," written by Maria's older brother, Charles. The book includes reflections and prayers about loss through homicide.
The Ridulph family also contributes to the fund, and individual and corporate donations are welcomed.
Charles Ridulph, 71, said the school principal recommends students who normally would not have the opportunity to attend camp.
"I remember as a kid going to summer camp, and it was one of my greatest experiences," he said. "And so far, it's been a real blessing."
Ridulph said he wanted to make the connection with his sister's school as well as Christianity, but the fund is flexible in how it can be used.
He said although scholarships are important, he wanted this fund to provide children with memories of activities that his late sister would have loved.
"Some of the kids (at Walcamp) are hearing about Jesus for the first time, and that's the connection that I want," he said.
Along with outdoor activities such as canoeing and exploring the creek, campers also study the Bible and sing faith-based songs during their stay.
"We learned that (Jesus) loves us a lot, and he risked himself for us," Guicho said. "We learned about friendship."
Camp leader Lindsay "Ducky" Konrad teared up while reflecting on the change in personality and outlook she sees in children who come to Walcamp. She said at first, they are often scared and glued to their phone screens.
"They don't want to give up their phones when they're dropped off by their parents," Konrad said. "And then by Friday, they don't want to leave here."
This story has been corrected to indicate that activities took place in July, not last Thursday.
Source: The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle, http://bit.ly/2uRVqsP
Information from: The Daily Chronicle, http://www.daily-chronicle.com