After getting to experience their first full session at their very own campsite, Camp Looking Glass’s 15th annual summer camp will wrap up this weekend.
Since Sunday, 28 campers with special needs and 38 volunteers have spent the week experiencing fun activities at their permanent campsite on Wilcox Road.
The camp week kicked off with a welcome party cook-out with outdoor games, such as corn hole and volley ball.
The rest of the week has been jam-packed with a variety of activities, such as daily inclusive morning yoga; swimming in the camp’s lake; art, music and dance classes; a dance party at the Washington County Convention Center, which campers traveled to in a limousine; and traveling to the Yazoo Wildlife Preserve to learn how to read a compass and participate in a scavenger hunt, and get an up-close look at animals such as turtles and baby alligators.
Campers will wrap up their activities at 7 p.m. Saturday evening with a free show for the public at St. Joseph Catholic School.
The show is called “CLG Music Awards,” where campers will perform as various celebrities and bands in award-style atmosphere. After the performance, there will be a video presentation about their week at camp. Past videos can be found on their YouTube page.
Steven Halland, who has been a camper for five years, said his favorite part about CLG is the people.
“Meeting new people, making friends, being around people who you love to be around,” Halland said, noting some of his favorite activities this year have been art days, which are held each day at camp and once a month throughout the year.
“I don’t just come for the summer, I come year round,” Halland said.
The campsite’s ADA compliance has been great for Halland, who is in a wheelchair.
“This site is more accessible for my mobility needs. We don’t have to come up with creative ways for me to participate because it is made for me,” he said.
A counselor for eight years, Carlos Goodwin, of Memphis, Tenn., said he, too, enjoys being around the people at CLG.
“There’s a lot of good energy here,” he said.
Goodwin also noted it has been great having their own camp.
“It’s ours. We can come back to it whenever we want to, put things where we want to; we get to build the dream,” Goodwin said.
Since its inception in 2004, CLG has provided accessible summer camp and year-round activities to the campers and their families at no cost.
CLG campers include children and adults alike with a wide range of disabilities, including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Autism, hearing impairments and other physical or cognitive disabilities. There is no age requirement to participate.
In 2005, CLG kicked off its first week-long camp with about 20 campers at Leroy Percy State Park and every year since — until now — campers and counselors resided together in rented cabins.
In April 2014, CLG received conditional approval from the Washington County Planning Commission to use an 11-acre donated site on Wilcox Road to establish a camp.
From that point on, they hosted several fundraisers to raise the money for the facility so they could have their own cabins, an activity center, storage barn, and a man-made lake, which they now have.
Camp Director Jennifer Boyce said it’s been wonderful to have their own camp so they can focus more on their campers and less on transportation.
“It’s been really exciting for us to be on our own land and see how everything functions with what we’ve been planning,” she said, noting they have run into very few issues so far. “It’s been great to be out here, everybody’s excited to be on our own property.”
After renting the campsite at Leroy Percy State Park for 14 years, Boyce said it’s been great to have their own place to store items.
“We don’t have to bring things back and forth anymore, we don’t have to waste time trying to pack and organize things to take something back…it’s made it easier to be at our property where we can focus on the campers and not have to spend so much time trying to organize supplies that have to be transported back and forth.”
Before this year’s camp week kicked off, Mayor Errick Simmons visited the campsite June 5 for a tour and to make a proclamation in honor of the camp.
On a live video posted to Facebook page by the City of Greenville, Simmons commended Boyce and the camp for being assets to the community.
“The community access and accessibility of this camp was built by the community and is for the community,” Simmons said in the video. For more information about GLC, to donate or get involved, visit camplookingglass.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 662-931-5328.