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Perdues speak as a team
Governor, first lady support youth camp
Gov. Sonny Perdue speaks as the first lady, Mary Perdue, stands by his side Sunday at a breakfast to benefit Camp Hope, a summer camp sponsored by the Chattahoochee Baptist Association. - photo by Harris Blackwood
In a speech at a benefit for a camp focused on at-risk youth, Gov. Sonny Perdue opted to defer to one of the state’s major advocates for children — his wife.

The governor and first lady, Mary Perdue, jointly addressed a Sunday morning breakfast at First Baptist Church for Camp Hope, a summer camp sponsored by the Chattahoochee Baptist Association.

Sharing a podium, the Perdues spoke from a personal, rather than policy, perspective.

"This is a team effort, and this is the captain of the team to my right," said the governor. "I’ve watched her as she’s been an unconditionally loving mother and a doting, unconditionally loving grandmother."

Mary Perdue said the success stories of the foster care program are often overshadowed by the problems in the foster care program.

"Most of the time, what we see in the media with our Department of Family and Children Services is when we have a tragedy or our system fails," she said. "It keeps good people, like you, from becoming involved with children who need you."

The first lady said government intervention for children is not the desired step.

"The reason children have to come into the foster care program is because the adults in their lives have somehow failed them," she said. "When we grown-ups, who are supposed to know it all and have all the answers, don’t do the things we should do for our children, that’s when the state system has to step in."

She cited the Angler’s Sunday School Class at First Baptist, which has sponsored Camp Hope for 40 years, as an example of champions for children. The class has provided funding for the camp, which provides a summer experience for children who are often at-risk.

"We either care for the children now or we will care for them later in our juvenile justice system or in the prison system," Mary Perdue said.

She said she has made numerous appeals to religious groups, but sometimes they have not responded.

"Unfortunately, the community of faith, by and large, has turned this over to the state. The state is not a good family. We are the family. You and I and people who believe as we do that the Heavenly Father loves every child."

The governor was introduced at the event by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who also paid tribute to their efforts on behalf of children.

The governor, first lady and lieutenant governor also worshipped later in the morning with the congregation of First Baptist at the 8:30 a.m. service, at which Gov. Perdue offered the invocation.