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Owners,VT Students Turning Augusta Farm into Special Needs Camp - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Owners, VT Students Turning Augusta Farm into Special Needs Camp

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An Augusta County couple has a vision for a new summer camp that caters to children with special needs. "Camp Light" is getting close to reality, and getting help from a sustainable-building team from Virginia Tech.

To most, Creative Works Farm in Augusta County looks like simple pasture and wood. Scott and Cathy Balsley instead see the 161 acres on Purple Cow Road as a welcoming place for kids with mental or physical challenges.

"We had this idea that if we could find a farm, we would love to open a camp for kids where kids could come with all different types of special needs," said Scott Balsley.

"Camp Light" will have the zip lines, canoeing and crafts of a typical camp. It will also offer horticulture, organic gardening and animal management.

A team of construction students from Virginia Tech is helping with green building and layout to help the project possibly become the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified children's camp.

"We want to design the buildings so that they take advantage of shelter from trees and things like that, and reduce the need for artificial energy to heat and cool them," said Dr. Annie Pearce of Virginia Tech's School of Construction.

Kids who attend the camp will put sustainability into practice, possibly without knowing it.

"Using the swales we'd like to put in for the capture of rainwater as slip-and-slides for the kids. So they might actually play in some of these features if we could design them well and experience the fun side of green building," said Pearce.

The Virginia Tech students will make recommendations in a matter of weeks and fundraising is already underway.

"Our capital campaign, we're looking to raise between $5.5 million and $6 million to get the camp built," said Balsley

If all goes well, "Camp Light" will open sometime next year.

The camp is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and is looking for corporate sponsorships and private donations. To find out more about the project, click here.

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