Horseback riding, archery, canoeing, fishing, target shooting and swimming, not to mention the cheers of encouraging coaches and colleagues – these are some of the staples kids heading to camp can expect as summer brings a chance to explore and enjoy the great outdoors. For another year, the inability to see clearly or at all will not preclude some Midwestern children from experiencing these memorable childhood moments.
Heather’s Camp, an annual program designed to allow young children and teens who are blind or low vision experience the same exhilarating summertime activities as their typically sighted peers, will take place July 31 through August 3 at the Rock Springs 4-H Camp just south of Junction City, Kan. The overnight program will welcome approximately 90 children from across Kansas and surrounding states for four days of making dreams a reality as they are trained and assisted in a variety of physical activities many may have thought were out of their reach. Campers range in age from five to 20, with some of the older participants having attended for more than a decade. There is a one to one ratio of children to counselors, with a total of over 200 camp participants. Operating in a safe environment, guided by the trained camp counselors and aided by technology such as beep archery, they learn that their visual loss or impairment need not be a barrier to achievement.
In addition to athletics, Heather’s Camp encourages youth to take new strides in bringing out their inner beauty through such activities as dancing, singing, even getting made up in a beauty shop. It’s all part of a plan to provide them with the standard summertime rites of passage of childhood and adolescence.
NOTE TO EDITORS: PHOTOS AND VIDEO ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.
Heather’s Camp is an opportunity for youth who are blind and visually impaired to have a summer experience like any other child, explains Bonnie Cochran, Heather’s Camp Director and Director of Support Programs for Envision.
They build friendships with others experiencing the same struggles they face. They gain new skills, but perhaps more importantly, they gain more confidence and independence in a supportive and encouraging environment, and create social networks and memories that will last a lifetime.
Brightness From A Dark Episode
Heather’s Camp was created in 2001 in memory of Heather Muller, a Wichita State University alumna, by the alumnae and collegiate members of Delta Gamma. Heather had been pursuing her master’s degree in early childhood special education when her life was cut tragically short. An active member of Delta Gamma sorority, Heather worked to further the efforts of the Delta Gamma philanthropy: Service for Sight. Her love of children and desire to help those with special needs lives on in Heather’s Camp, a not-for-profit organization which is staffed by many volunteers, including the WSU Delta Gammas.
Envision is proud to be the presenting sponsor of Heather’s Camp, said Envision President and CEO Michael Monteferrante.
Showing these kids that their visual impairments can’t hold them back from living full lives is so important. Watching a child have the opportunity to be themselves and experience typical summer activities they normally may not be able to participate in is irreplaceable.
To make a donation to the camp or for more information, contact Krista Rapp, President of the Heather’s Camp Board of Directors at Kmrapp@cox.net or 316-516-4539.
For information on Envision including additional opportunities for children who are blind or low vision, contact Envision’s Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy, Heather Hogan, at Heather.Hogan@envisionus.com or 316-440-1517.