IRT Breaks Ground at MTK’s Camp Kamaasa

May 2018 | NEWSLETTER of the IRT (Innovating Readiness Training)

Mississippi’s Camp Kamassa
Military Training Mission Builds Camp for Children with Special Needs

Mrs. Mary Kitchens, Co-Founder and Director, Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation
“With the wonderful help of the men and women of the Air Force Reserve and National Guard, through the IRT program, children in Mississippi with special needs will soon have a great place to attend camp. We are so very thankful to the IRT for their invaluable assistance.”

The Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program began construction of Camp Kamassa in April. During this multi-year mission, the IRT program will build the first special needs camp in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, for the Mississippi’s Toughest Kids (MTK) Foundation. The IRT mission brings together service members from the Air Force Reserve and Air Guard to train on mission-essential tasks, including construction, dirt work, engineering, plumbing, and pest management. Building Camp Kamassa provides the military hands-on, multi-trade construction experience, while simultaneously creating an opportunity for children with special needs to experience summer camp.

The myriad of construction training opportunities at Camp Kamassa makes it an ideal mission for IRT. Military engineers develop a variety of skills, including the ability to manufacture structures from wilderness environments during overseas contingency operations. “We like to get projects that cover all components of construction,” said Chief Master Sergeant Todd Jones, IRT Project Manager assigned to Air Force Reserve Command, “and IRT will be involved in all aspects of constructing Camp Kamassa from cradle to grave.” Service members began the dirt work— clearing land and building roads— for the first phase of the project, and by the end of the summer will install water and sewage lines, dig a well, and build eight cabins. During this project, scheduled to last three years, service members will build a cafeteria, covered sidewalk, and an infirmary capable of providing care for the campers’ unique health concerns.

Kamassa, a Chocktaw word meaning “tough and perseverant,” describes the ones the camp serves—children living with disabilities, life-threatening illnesses, or other hardships. “We envisioned a year-round camp facility with activities like horseback riding, a ropes course, and canoeing that would be handicap-accessible,” said Mrs. Mary Kitchens, MTK’s co-founder and director. Kitchens wanted to build a permanent camp that was accessible to her target audience and had specialized medical facilities. “Without the IRT program, we could not afford to build the camp,” said Mrs. Kitchens, “thanks to the IRT program, thousands of children will have a camp designed to meet their unique medical needs while giving them a camp experience filled with fun, adventure, and discovery.”