As a Type 1 Diabetic I had the opportunity to attend the Lions Camp at Kerrville, Texas through the sponsorship of the Baytown Lions Club. The Texas Lions Camp provides an opportunity for young campers to enjoy the benefits of a camp that they may not otherwise be able to attend. The camp has 8 weeks of camping each summer. They have four weeks for disabled campers ranging from blind, hearing impaired, or medical problems such as heart or asthma to missing limbs. The camp also has an autism and a cancer week.
The last two weeks of camp are dedicated to type 1 diabetics. Dr Ponders from South Texas brings his entire clinic staff for the two weeks. There are about 1400 campers at the camp each summer. While attending camp I saw a need to add to the existing climbing wall that was at the camp. With just one wall only one camper at a time could enjoy trying to climb the wall, which resulted in long lines and not much fun for the campers.
While attending a sponsor dinner for the camp, the story was told about a camper called Nay Nay. She was a quadriplegic camper who had been to the camp several years. One year when she arrived at camp she was asked what she was going to do special for that year. Her response was she was just going to sit by the pool since she had done everything else at the camp. I asked her if she had climbed the climbing wall.
She said, “Look at me, how can I climb a wall?” Well, she was challenged to at least try. The wall had a counter balance system that helped campers like Nay Nay. Her goal was to get 6’ off the ground, on her first try she made it only 2’ but after a short rest tried again and made it to 6’. She was very excited and stated that next year she would go for the bell at the top. For Nay Nay and the other campers like her, I took on the project of building two additional walls including modifications to the existing wall.
At the completion of my Eagle Project, the new center wall has the rocks spaced closer than normal to accommodate the handicapped campers. The right side wall was made tougher for the campers that wanted to try it including the top 4’ angled out for more difficulty. The walls were completed before the next summer and campers were able to spend more time on the walls. Some who may not have been able to climb a wall before, could now have that opportunity. The new walls were a big hit and will be for many years to come. I am planning on being a counselor at the camp during the summer of 2017 and will enjoy helping young campers climb these walls no matter what the disability might be. Thank you.