Camp Pee Dee Pride Celebrates 23 Years with Wayne Howard
photography by Erin Daniel
It’s easy to say that most of us carry a fond camp memory. The new friends you make, the interesting places you go, and new experiences you have, play a big role in the fun times had. However, the people orchestrating the weeklong events – the camp counselors – are the founding factor of those great memories. The Florence County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) celebrates it’s 23rd annual Camp Pee Dee Pride this summer and its success is due mostly in part to the hardworking individuals that spend their summer making dreams come true for the children in our community.
Captain Wayne Howard has operated the free summer camp for the last 23 years. What began as a career in law enforcement 43 years ago easily transitioned into a full-time, special projects position with the FCSO. After working in the narcotics department and seeing the environments kids face, Wayne began forming Camp Pee Dee Pride to introduce positive alternatives to these kid’s lives. Captain Wayne’s passion for the kids made him the perfect person to lead the camp.
Not only do the kids love Wayne, but the counselors also do too! Sarah Borck, a four-year camp counselor, says, “Captain Wayne is literally the best boss ever.” She goes on to tell about one of her favorite memories with Wayne that happened on her first day of camp. “He was super inviting and jumped right into joking around; he made Camp Pee Dee Pride what it is today!” Jasmine Watson, eight-year camp counselor, and Allie Roark, nine-year camp counselor, agree that Wayne is the original creator of all things fun at Camp Pee Dee Pride. Allie adds, “Captain Wayne has worked extremely hard to make these camps possible. I consider myself lucky to get to work with Wayne and watch him pour out his heart and soul into a camp that he created many years ago.”
What began for Wayne as a meager attempt to provide children with a small escape from their daily lives has become a primary influence in their futures. Jasmine has witnessed this influence first hand working with the kids. “One of my favorite memories was on our weekly visit to Wild, Water & Wheels. I was riding on a slide with a camper when she looked at me and said, ‘This is the best day of my life! I’ve never been anywhere like this before.’” Jasmine was also told by a camper as they were eating at the Francis Marion University cafeteria, “This is like a feast. This is the most food I’ve ever seen!” These are the type of memories Captain Wayne and his group of counselors take pride in making for their campers, one’s that have a lasting effect.
As summer approaches, Wayne and his counselors look forward to meeting new kids, seeing returning campers, and making new memories. Our community has been honored to have such a humble, loving and compassionate group to guide our children’s future. We hope for many years to come!
“Wayne and the counselors are always so nice! I love going to Wild, Water & Wheels and making new friends. Camp Pee Dee Pride is the highlight of my summer!” -Caroline H.
L to R: Kingsley Wilson, Colton Wilson, Justin Hendrick Caroline Hendrick, Rylan Hendrick, pictured with Wayne