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Times Summer Camp Fund

Four Have Adventure on Their Minds

July 10, 2002|KWALA MANDEL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It will be unusually quiet at the Garnett house during the week when Margaret Garnett's 7-year-old quadruplets, Iman, Imani, Rojay and Romello, will be away from their home for the Salvation Army's Camp Mount Crags. The fraternal foursome--two girls, two boys--have been looking forward to going to the Calabasas camp, though their mother cautions that the counselors had better prepare for the kids, whom she refers to as "a handful."

Garnett jokes that they scared away their first-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary in Hawthorne, who isn't returning this fall. "They are going to separate them for second grade."

This may be a case where camp is more of break for the parent than for the children. Garnett was diagnosed with severe lupus after her pregnancy and the disease has begun affecting her major organs--making it a challenge to keep up with quadruplets. The children's father died in 1999, which has also been difficult. "Just last week, they found their dad's hats. I still have his clothes and stuff, and he wore different color cowboy hats every day," Garnett said. "Now the boys are wearing them."

The high level of camp activity will be nothing new for the children, who are already involved in everything from music to scooters to business ventures. The girls, Iman and Imani, are trying to start their own clothing line for kids, and are creating an exercise video for overweight children. Their mother is helping them design the clothes, and a trainer from Bally's is helping them with their aerobics routines. "Imani has already decided she wants to be Miss California, and Iman says she's going to be Miss Louisiana when she grows up," said the 51-year-old homemaker, who supports the family with Social Security benefits.

While the girls are working on their dress patterns, Rojay can be found busily dismantling the house. "I noticed all the facings on the wall for the lights were off, and was trying to figure out what was going on," Garnett said. "Rojay took off 15 of them before I called the maintenance man to put them back." All four also play music together in the house, which means banging on drums, playing guitars, singing "and a lot of loud noise," said their mother. "Before we got the drums, they would bang on a box. " Their weeklong stay at camp, with support from The Times summer camp campaign, will mark the first-graders' first time away from their mother, which makes them a little nervous. "They are trying to recruit me, saying, 'You want to come? You want to come?' But they are very excited," said Garnett.

Every year since 1954, readers and employees of The Times have sent thousands of children to summer camp. This year more than 11,000 needy children will experience a special summer thanks to the $1.6 million raised last year.

The average cost of sending a child to camp for a week is $150. This year, the McCormick Tribune Foundation will match the first $1.2 million in contributions at 50 cents on the dollar.

Checks should be sent to: L.A. Times Summer Camp Campaign, File No. 56984, Los Angeles, CA 90074-6984. For more information, call (213) 237-5771. To make credit card donations, visit www.la times.com/summercamp. Do not send cash.

All donations are tax-deductible. Unless donors request otherwise, gifts of $25 or more are acknowledged in The Times. The summer camp campaign is part of the Los Angeles Times Family Fund, a fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation.

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