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Camp keeps Italian culture alive and well

July 8, 2010
BY JESS LOOMAN, Staff writer

WINTERSVILLE - The third-annual Campo Italiano was held recently at the Jeffersonian Lodge Italian Village Campgrounds.

Thanks to the efforts of the Italian American Culture Club, area children were able to enjoy a week of "Italian fun in the sun," according to organizers.

"Thanks to all of the fundraisers, we are able to sponsor this free camp for the kids," said event chairman Carm Gentile. "The campers are only required to pay for their T-shirts."

The campers range from ages 2-12, Gentile said.

The campers also get the chance to participate in a variety of authentic activities.

"We mainly focus on the language," Gentile said. "But each day, the campers had a different class including body parts, animals, action words, opposites, jump rope rhymes, supermarket words and Italian chants. We also had an arts and crafts section where the children made visors, cement stepping stones and Christmas ornaments. Games are also correlated with the activities."

Lunch was given to each camper every day, Gentile noted.

"We tried to have three authentic meals including pizza, pepperoni rolls and pasta," she said.

Gentile said the fundraisers for the event include "Una Serate Italiano" and "Ballo Di Primavera."

"'Una Serata Italiano' takes place in August at St. Florian Hall and is an evening of fun and entertainment for the entire family to celebrate the Italian heritage," she explained. "'Ballo Di Primavera' is in March and is an adult dinner/dance. We have sponsors from the community businesses and members for each event."

Beyond the camp, the organization also gives scholarships to high school seniors each year, Gentile noted.

The steering committee for the day camp includes Gentile, Elida Petrella, Rene Walsh and Tami Cashioli.

"All of the volunteers for this event are wonderful, and they work hard to make sure the kids have a great experience," Gentile said.

"We also could not have made this event possible without the wonderful community support," she said. "There were 30 sponsors this year, and I want to personally thank them. I would also like to thank all of the parents who entrusted us with the care of their children. Thank you for the opportunity to share our heritage with the youth."

Gentile said most of the campers are children or grandchildren of club members. However, some children traveled from as far as Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pennsylvania to be part of the event.

"We also invite the children of the members of the Italian village," she said.

Gentile noted she already is looking forward to next year's event.

"We have been sponsoring this event for three years, and each year the event grows and grows," she said. "We had 95 campers this year, and I'm looking forward to surpassing 100 next year."

(Looman can be contacted at

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