Lions Clubs International Centennial Celebration - 193M People Benefited  |   Centennial Merchandise
Jump to Main Content
Lions 100 Lions 100
Jump to Footer

The Great Outdoors

A camper at the Louisiana Lions Camp befriends a horse on the day an equestrian therapy group visited.

A camper at the Louisiana Lions Camp befriends a horse on the day an equestrian therapy group visited.

The Great Outdoors

section

Touchstone Story #48

Lions have long been leaders in helping children with disabilities get in touch with nature—initially by making the fun of camping available to youth who are visually impaired and then by expanding the experience to campers with developmental and physical challenges of all kinds.

After Boston-area Lions opened the first U.S. camp for blind girls in 1931 in nearby New Hampshire, the Boston Daily Globe reported that while the camp looked like most summer camps, “it is not ‘just another camp.’ This camp is unique.”

At Lions-sponsored camps around the world, from the Republic of Georgia to New Zealand, campers with special needs do what all children do at camp: They swim, ride horses, go canoeing, create arts and crafts, fish, learn archery and take nature hikes. They meet other children with similar challenges. They grow more self-confident.

Some Lions camps are strictly recreational. Others provide campers with education and training, including instruction in daily living activities. Because of their disabilities, children attending Lions camps often need help with outdoor activities—and Lions work hard to make sure that help is available.  

At Lions Bear Lake Camp in Lapeer, Michigan, USA, campers who use wheelchairs are able to strap on climbing ropes, and with the help of a buddy climber leave their chairs and work their way up a 40-foot vertical climbing wall. They return to earth via a zip line. The experience helps campers break free of self-limiting beliefs.

At the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, Texas, USA, campers with physical disabilities and challenging medical conditions ride horseback, shoot archery and are inspired to try many new activities. In such a setting, campers use spirit and enthusiasm to overcome obstacles. And at Lions-sponsored Camp Pacifica in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, children who are deaf or hearing-impaired enjoy dancing by feeling the vibrations of the music.

Lions encourage the “can-do” attitude at the Allen H. Stewart Lions Camp near Casper, Wyoming, USA. The Casper Lions Club founded the camp in 1926 to serve youth with visual impairments. The “can-do” attitude was put to the test a few years later when the camp moved to its present location. Lions and community volunteers bulldozed a road to the camp site on Casper Mountain, and then built dormitories, a cookhouse, staff quarters and a 500-gallon water tank.  

Larry Chaudoir, a member of the Mandeville Lions Club in Louisiana, USA, said the Louisiana Lions Camp gives children with special needs a feeling of belonging. “Once they leave,” said Chaudoir, “they can’t wait until the next summer to do it all again.”

A camper leaves his wheelchair and with the help of a buddy climber ascends the climbing tower at the Lions Bear Lake Camp in Lapeer, Michigan.

A camper leaves his wheelchair and with the help of a buddy climber ascends the climbing tower at the Lions Bear Lake Camp in Lapeer, Michigan. 

section

Jump to Top