Disabled Adults Experience the Outdoors at Camp


By Nick Hausen

MAKANDA --  A summer tradition is ongoing at Touch of Nature in Jackson County this week. Camp Little Giant gives folks with mental and physical disabilities an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

"I look forward to it," said camper Chuck Heerns. "I like our songs, sports, everything."
More than a dozen people with physical, cognitive and developmental challenges are in attendance. Singing and dancing are just a few of the many activities.
"We go swimming, pontooning, we do horses, which I love," explained camper Ann Connor.
Connor says it's about much more than the activities. It's about the people and the bonds between them.
"The friendships and the fact that you know you're not going to be judged for being in a wheel chair or whatever else," said Connor.
Old friendships are re-ignited and new ones are formed. Connor looks forward to this week every year.
"After the first of the year, I kind of start getting excited about it and start looking for the camp stuff in the mail," explained Connor.
While everyone is there to have fun, Director Vicki Lang-Mendenhall says this camp offers a unique experience to people who are often told they can't do things in their life.
"They have said yes, but that has not been an accessible environment for them or they have been told, no you can not, we just can not make it happen," said Lang-Mendenhall. "Here at Camp Little Giant, we will make it happen."
Which puts smiles on everyone faces, both campers and counselors.
Camp Little Giant hosts people age 21 and up. Later in the summer, Touch of Nature will hold a similar camp for kids
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