Thursday, August 09, 2007

Summer camp for the visually impaired

Some campers are getting to experience things they normally don’t get to do.The Oklahoma League for the Blind is holding the Oklahomans Without Limits Camp at the Central Christian Camp near Guthrie.Tanya Stewart, coordinator for the camp, said 16 campers who are visually impaired and about 40 members of the Woodland Hills Baptist Church youth group are attending.

The purpose of the camp is to bridge the gap between the sighted and visually impaired. The campers participate in a variety of activities, including arts and crafts and swimming and boating. Stewart said it gives the sighted youth a chance to see that blindness is a disability and a chance for the visually impaired to work with sighted peers.

“Ultimately, everyone has a difference but some are more overt than others,” Stewart said. She said many of the campers are used to having a lot of things done for them. However, at camp they are expected to dress themselves, clean their rooms, make their beds and go through the buffet line in the mess hall. Jamie Phares, youth minister of Woodland Hills Baptist Church, said the CEO of Oklahoma League for the Blind attends his church and approached him nine years ago about starting the camp with the help of his youth group.

“She had this idea to do this camp for blind students,” he said. “When we first started, some of these kids had never been in a boat, caught a fish, picked up an acorn or gone hiking.” He said one of the challenges of having the camp is challenging the campers safely.“When I first told people we were doing archery they looked at me like I was mad,” he said. “We found the kids were up for whatever we laid out for them.”

Phares said he is trying to teach his youth group to grow spiritually by being selfless and volunteering their time for a week. He said many members of his youth group keep in contact with campers they have met even after camp is finished. Camper Sierra Whitting said the confidence and team building classes are challenging for her.

“It’s hard to trust people you don’t know,” she said. Whitting said she has attended camp before but this is the first year she rode in an oar boat. “I’ve met a lot of friends here and I like to meet people,” she said.Cody Werenburg, a member of the youth group, said he’s been helping with the camp for the past five years. “It makes me thankful for sight,” he said.

“I watch them get around pretty well but it would be hard for me to do.” He said one thing he enjoys about the camp is watching the campers dive off the diving board and how excited they get at doing something they don’t normally get to do.


Post a Comment

<< Home