The NC Lions has a gem of a camp located on the shore of Lake Norman about 25 miles north of Charlotte. For those of you Lions that have not had a chance to visit the camp I would strongly encourage you to do so. Camp Dogwood is NC Lions camp for the blind and visually impaired. Each summer the Lions host blind and visually impaired campers for 10 weeks. Nine of the weeks are for adults and one week is specifically set aside for blind and visually impaired children between the ages of 8-17. The camp allows the campers to take part in boat rides, tubing, putt-putt golf, fishing, bowling and horseback riding. The maximum number of campers per week is 84. The cost to a single camper is $100 which in many cases is picked up by the local Lions club. The actual cost of sending a camper to Camp Dogwood is $625. The additional $525 is covered by the White Cane program.
Each year the NC Lions sells Camp Dogwood tickets and all of the money raised goes for the actual maintenance of the camp and to retire the debt on the recently constructed dorms. Presently the outstanding debt on the last dorms stands at about $50,000. Each Lion member is asked to sell a minimum of 3 books of tickets ($30). In addition there are several other opportunities for Lions members to visit and work at the camp. In April of each year there is a volunteer week in which Lions from around the State come to the camp to do whatever is needed to get it ready for the campers. During the summer camping season, Lion members can volunteer for a week to help the campers. My wife and I for the past 3 years have spent a week at the Camp and have found it to be a very rewarding experience. This past summer my granddaughter Amanda was a counselor at the Camp and I asked her to share some of her experiences.
“Over the course of the summer, I have gained a lot more respect for the VIPs. Many people tend to underestimate the ability of VIPs. They think that simply because they cannot see they can’t swing dance, go rock climbing, ride horses, go bowling, paint, or go tubing. Over the past 3 months I have realized the VIPs can do anything they set their mind to. Sometimes campers comment on their home environments saying how some people try and do everything for them, so they just end up sitting at home every day. These campers usually are the ones that are most active here at camp. At Camp Dogwood, VIPs get the chance to strip off any preconceived notions about their abilities and really let loose and have fun. One of the biggest things I have learned this summer is that, with enough practice, support, and a whole lot of courage, VIPs have the ability to live perfectly outstanding lives, full of as much adventure they desire.
I would like to let every Lion know that what they are doing makes more of an impact than they could even imagine. I hope that every Lion has the chance to come out to Camp Dogwood and see exactly what camp does for the VIP campers. It is easy to know in theory, but actually witnessing how much campers appreciate and enjoy the simple things Camp Dogwood provides them is just heartwarming. I would like to thank every Lion that has contributed to what Camp Dogwood is today. It would not be as spectacular without them.
Amanda Schimmoller, Counselor 2011”
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2nd Vice District Governor