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Anxiety and excitement mingled at girls from the LightHouse stepped off the van to explore Camp Keachi.

Owned by Tom and Mary Nesbitt, the camp is their home and property centered around a pond in DeSoto Parish. Each summer they allow a group of girls to have a full camping experience with everything from hiking to canoeing to silly camp songs.

Two of the campers had been before, and they regaled their peers with stories of horses and collecting eggs from chickens. A staff of eager counselors greeted the van full of nervous 10- to 12-year olds Monday morning.

As they sat on the porch overlooking the water, one hand went up: “What’s in the water?”

Counselors assured them only small fish and turtles, and then passed around a frozen water moccasin as a lesson in caution.

Safety is Mary Nesbitt’s first concern for all of the girls, and they spent most of the morning talking about what they might encounter, but danger can be healthy she said.

SONY DSC“It’s good to be in place that has some danger so they can learn how to cope,” she said.

Within 20 minutes, they were squealing in excitement as they caught their own minnows and frogs, fulfilling Nesbitt’s other goal.

“I want them to learn about the natural world and appreciate the natural world,” she said.

To that end, the girls will also help take care of the animals, including chickens, horses and some baby ducks.

“They’re so cute!” agreed several of the girls.

Some of the events took a little courage. Essence, a sixth grader, approached horseback riding with some minor trepidation. “I can’t do it,” she said with one foot in the stirrups.

But with a little push from a counselor she was riding as if she had done it for years.

See more photos in our Camp Keachi Gallery.

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