By Oda Lisa
Printed in the Wimberley View
On Sunday, June 12, over two dozen Wimberley Lions Club members carpooled to Kerrville to host an evening picnic at the Texas Lions Camp. According to the official TLC website, it has been "Providing camping experiences at no charge to children with medical conditions since 1949." Their "no cost to children" policy includes any transportation expenses. When possible, Lions Club members from all over Texas, acting as sponsors, have taken on the responsibility of driving campers there. The camp operates regular sessions and specialty camps with an emphasis in specific medical conditions for a variety of ages. The 2016 weekly, summer schedule began on June 5 and will run through August 6. Wimberley's day at the camp was the beginning of the second session with enthusiastic campers ranging in ages from 7 to 16.
Among the Wimberley members, seven students from the local Leos Club were there to volunteer their time and efforts, helping staff and campers in whatever way they were needed. The group of adult Lions included in-coming 2016-2017 president, John D. Estepp. He has been a member of WLC since 1994 and has attended Wimberley's turn at the camp's grill for at least twenty years. He said, "We have a lot of great interaction with the staff that come from all over the world here, as far as Australia." Those dozens of national and international counselors are college students who want to make their summer-time matter by serving others. Speaking about the WLC volunteers, Estepp said, "We have enough people here, typically, who can help lend a hand to carry something to the tables and interact with the children when they're sitting down. We also have people going around toward the end of the picnic who will hand out seconds of hot dogs or whatever, that kind of thing." He concluded, saying, "Be it hot weather or cool weather,we always seem to have a great time."
Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the TLC, Trish Wilson, explained, "Children who attend Texas Lions Camp all have some kind of qualifying physical disability." She names type-1 diabetes, cancer, and Down syndrome as a few examples. Referring to the children's experiences at the camp, Wilson said, "They arrive wondering. Wondering, 'What can I do there, with my limitations? Will I make friends? Will anyone look at me because I'm so different?' And while they are here, they learn that their limitations are not what defines them. They have the opportunity to try new activities with the accessibility to accomplish whatever goals they set for themselves." Besides the fun of camping, which is a totally new experience for some of the children, there is often an element of positive self-awareness to be gained. She explained, "Their limitations don't limit them, they provide a different way of looking at things and figuring out how to attack obstacles with new-found confidence, which they take home with them and face their day-to-day challenges with new strength and determination." This special, summer program is so successful, a number of campers want to return year after year. It can be said in truth that the TLC experience can be life-changing for staff, volunteers, and of course, the kids. Wilson noted, "They are able to spend time with new friends, who face similar circumstances and thus binds their hearts together. Having someone who walks your same path, or understands what you are going through each day makes a difference." And, her eight and a half years on staff have given her this keen insight, "Our differences are what makes us a team, a unit, a family of friends."
For more information about the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, visit the website at www.lions camp.com. Contact Trish Wilson at email@example.com or call, (830) 896-8500.