Despite the heat and humidity Thursday evening, campers of all ages danced the night away as Camp Courage returned to the Western Illinois Youth Camp this week.
Camp Courage is a summer camp for physically handicapped children. It was founded in 1975 by four area families who had handicapped children and could not attend regular summer camps.
The first camp started with eight campers and has grown to a cap of 35 campers. John Hunter with Camp Courage says this is actually the camp’s 45th year as last year’s camp could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hunter says in spite of the heat, everyone was more than thrilled to be back at camp.
“It’s been wonderful to be back. Naturally, all the campers are very excited to be back and see all their friends they haven’t seen for almost two years. So the excitement was very high on Monday and remained high all week so it’s been great.”
On Thursday night everyone enjoyed a concert in the recreation pavilion by the band Harmony Grits while the Zingabad Grotto Bus handed out cotton candy, popcorn, soda, and a lot of sno-cones.
Hunter says they try to vary the activities from day to day and year to year to allow the kids the opportunity to participate in events, they normally do not get to take in.
“We’ve had horseback riding, we’ve had a hot air balloon come out in the past. Now this year we had Rodger Russel come out from the Jacksonville Prop Kickers and actually did a little demonstration with one of his model airplanes and the kids really enjoyed that. We went canoeing yesterday, and we go swimming as much as possible, weather permitting and heat.
We have people that come out with their pontoon boats every year and give us a ride around the lake on Wednesday night. John Casey comes out on Tuesday night and does D.J. Service for us. This band that’s here this evening, at least two of the members have been coming out for many many years. The band reorganizes every now and then. So we try to adapt different games and activities for the kids to make where they can do it also.”
On Tuesday night the Safe Co Ice Cream Trolley made an appearance during the evening to help the campers and staff keep cool.
Hunter says the total attendance was down for this year however it was a very successful camp.
“With COVID we had some that weren’t allowed out and back in of group homes, and some of our campers have moved away, so we had twenty-three this year, which is not bad after a year off. But we are always looking for new campers and younger campers. We will take anybody from six years of age up to eighteen years of age.
So if you have or know of a handicapped child who is looking for a camp to go to, you can contact me, John Hunter at 473-6363”
Camp Courage is a not-for-profit organization and entertainment and vendors donated their time and products this week to help the kids have a good camp.
For more information on how to participate or to donate to the camp, contact John Hunter at 217-473-6363.