Flying E ranch hosts cowboy camp for foster kids

By David Zambrano

Reporter/Photographer

OCJ Kids (Opportunity Community and Justice for Kids), was founded in 1992 by Gary and Tammie Webb to help kids who live in the foster care system to have the resources, mentors and supplies to be successful in life. According to Gary Webb, their goal was to “form an alliance with the business and faith communities to provide services, resources and caring adults as life coaches to help them walk through the journey of life.”

OCJ kids met with Western Destinations in 2008 and arranged to have a “Cowboy Camp” for the kids. Webb wanted the kids to have that western experience so they brought them up to the Flying E for their second year in Wickenburg. Flying E provides the wranglers, the horses, the feed, and volunteer Carrie Erickson prepares the meals for the kids. “A lot of the kids arrive here and don’t know what is going on because they’ve never been out of the city. It’s really cool to see the life transformation that takes place in these kids even the ones that arrive reserved and introverted. It makes a huge impact on their life and will be something that they’ll always remember.” Gary Webb said.

“This has been a great relationship with OCJ, it keeps getting better every year and this location has been the best of all of them.” Said camp director Craig Katzowsky. The kids earn points for participation and the most points win a pizza party at the end.

The camp started on June 1 and goes everyday except Sundays until June 30. Western Destination helps with fundraising events and promotion as well as forming other partnerships to help build the camp and what they are doing. OCJ Kids plans on reaching out to “at risk” youth in the Wickenburg area “so they can experience the camp.” Gary Webb said. OCJ kids also plans on having a reunion at Flying E with all the kids in October, which will involve music, games, trail ride, and food as a way to say thank you for participating. OCJ is working with kids that are getting into young adulthood into finding employment positions within Western Destinations. “We’ll train them, give them experience in hospitality, we’ll house them. We’ll recruit three kids who are aging out of the foster care system and train them to be a part of the camp, and to learn how the camp works and be an employee here.” Said Gary Webb. The camp is free to the foster children and every young person that comes to camp gets a new sleeping bag to take home with them. The OCJ Kids organization is continually looking for sponsors and supporters so “we can get more kids up here and provide more things for them so they can have a phenomenal time.” Webb said. Foster care youth who want to experience the camp can contact OCJ Kids at (602) 439-2171 or visit the website at www.ocjkids.org

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