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March 22, 2013

Kerleys close Teen Round-Up, prepare to head to Arizona mountains

DUNCAN — Change is one of the hardest things in life to deal with, something Kim and Roxanne are learning, even when it’s the best or right move to make.

For 15 years, Teen Round-Up has made the dream of summer camp come true for children of families going through hardships. Approximately 1,000 children each summer have visited the free camps.

The Kerleys hosted the first Teen Round-Up free summer camp in 1998 with the purpose to host a camp for needy children. Now, although they are keeping their mission going, they will be carrying it out in Prescott, Ariz.

“I had looked before at other camps, so this isn’t anything new but we feel so called to Arizona,” said Kim, who has lived here since the age of 6. “I made a promise to God that I was not going to take a camp out of His kingdom without having another one.”

Part of Prescott National Forest, the camp is on 80 acres and 1.5 hours north of Phoenix. The Kerleys reported that it is covered in large boulders and huge Ponderosa pines. In order to purchase this camp, they will be selling their current property out on Empire Road, just south of Beech.

“It’s going to take someone with a lot of passion and a real heart for kids,” said Roxanne. “But God put the passion in me, so I know he can put it in someone else.”

Despite knowing this is what they are being lead to do, after returning to Duncan from looking at the Arizona camp, looking at what they will be leaving behind hit them hard.

“I’ve been so busy that I hadn’t taken the time to think about it, but it really hit me hard this morning,” Roxanne said on Thursday. “I didn’t realize how hard it is to leave but I’m looking back on all we did here.”

The Kerleys raised three children while living at Teen Round-Up and though the older two are married and moved out, their only son Calvin, 19, is transferring from Cameron University to Arizona to be with his parents. A counselor for several summers, he is going with the flow of the move and is glad they are going to continue to have a free camp.

“It’s a new chapter, it’s what we do,” Calvin said. “If we start charging, we’ll just be doing what everyone else does and it takes the uniqueness away.”

For a one-week summer camp in the Phoenix area, a $500 fee is on the low end of what is available. The Kerleys want to be able to offer the kids of Arizona the kind of Christ-based free camp that they have offered Oklahoma children.

“We try to guide them and give them hope,” said Roxanne.

Teen Round-Up camps for summer 2013 have been canceled because of all the preparation needed to get ready for the move. It’s been hard hearing from the parents of regular campers that their children are upset over the thought of no camp, which is why it is important to the Kerleys that the camp be left in the right hands.

“I’ve been passionate about this place since 1995 and to leave it is sad,” Roxanne said. “We hope someone buys it for some kind of free child outreach.”

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