Alice Walton: Working to Bring the World to Arkansas' Door

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Mar. 29, 2010 12:00 am  

A less well-known Walton initiative is Camp War Eagle, which opened in 2006 on 383 acres on Beaver Lake in Benton County. The camp, for children 7 to 17 from Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison counties, was also the result of Walton's efforts, with help from the Walton Family Foundation.

The camp "is a result of the vision and dream that Alice had," said Sam Torn, the camp's executive director. "She was the complete driving force behind the formation and founding of the camp."

Camp War Eagle is more than summer recreation with a Christian emphasis, Torn said. Walton wanted "to create a place that could identify needs that existed in the lives of these children and create a program that followed up with these children on a year-round basis," he said. The camp offers access to tutoring services and a mentoring program.

The camp has served 9,000 children so far and is set to serve another 4,000 this summer.

Asked what Alice Walton's influence had been on Arkansas, Ed Clifford, president and CEO of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, said, "I think what she's done is present us with a different vision of ourselves. ... And what Alice has done for northwest Arkansas - and for all of Arkansas, I suspect, when Crystal Bridges opens - is give us a different personality. I think that's her major contribution to Arkansas."

What is that personality?

"It's a much more global personality," Clifford said. "It's a personality that puts us directly in contact with 18 destination cities now from an airport. It's a personality that will make us one of the finest American art museums anywhere."

He said, "When I think of what Alice has accomplished, it's always about vision," adding, "she never forgot from where she came."



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