Pratt-area kids went to summer camp thanks to Youth Core Ministries and Elks Lodge cooperation and bit of hard work.

Members of Pratt Elks Lodge 1451 got together Thursday with Youth Core Ministries members and staff to reminisce about several summer work days at Pratt’s Store Next Door that resulted in a $2,500 Elks Foundation grant to fund summer camp expenses for eight area youth.
Elks Member Kasey Voss submitted the Promise Grant Application based on the partnership of the Pratt Elks Club and Youth Core Ministry members.
“We’re grateful for the Elks funding and grateful to the Pratt Lodge members who worked side-by-side with our youth and YCM staff to get some needed work done,” YCM Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Deborah Factor said Friday.
Voss said Elks members matched YCM teens participation hour for hour, logging a combined total of about 210 work hours.
“We worked at the Store Next Door and we were very impressed with all the hard work the kids put in as they kept pace with our Elks members to accomplish tasks ranging from sorting donated items, to organizing, to cleaning,” Voss said.
When Voss learned about the Elks grant program, she knew it would be a good project for Pratt Elks members, but said she wasn’t sure how to find the right group to partner with.
“I asked Kim (Cline) at the Chamber and YCM was one of the groups she mentioned,” Voss said. “We contacted YCM staff and got a welcoming response. It turned out to be a perfect match.”
As Elks representatives and YCM gathered Thursday afternoon at The Store Next Door for a group picture to commemorate their friendship, YCM Pratt County Life Director Tyler Bousman expressed thanks.
“We couldn’t have gotten all these kids to camp without you,” Bousman said.
Cost of the camp was $300 per camper and included all expenses except travel and meals en route and return.
One of the campers was Nikita Mehlhorn, junior at Pratt High School.
Mehlhorn recalled the week-long tent-camping camp experience at Golden Bell Camp & Conference Center in Teller County, Colorado, about an eight-hour road trip from Pratt.
“There was white-water rafting and one day we had an outing to Denver we and got to choose from a variety of activities,” Mehlhorn said. She chose Elitch Gardens Theme and Family Water Park.
Camp included evening chapel.
“The last night we had s’mores and we all had KP duty of washing dishes for one meal,” Mehlhorn said. “This was my sixth year and I’m looking forward to number seven next summer.”
Other YCM campers participating in the Thursday reunion were Morgan Riepl, Allison Root, Tyler Bennett, Ellary Root, Josie Root and Clayton Fox. The reunion group was rounded out by Elks members Bev Aldrich, Sandy Foster and Veni Rios and YCM Camp Director Caitlin Laha.