Camp Courage Kids Undaunted by Lingering Heat Wave

By Jeremy Coumbes on July 28, 2023 at 2:34pm

Camp Courage attendees dance to the music of the band "Harmony Grits" during the 2023 Camp Courage at the Great Western Youth Camp Thursday night.

This week’s heat wave put a damper on many area events, but couldn’t sour the excitement for one annual event at Lake Jacksonville.

The 47th annual Camp Courage was held this week at the Great Western Youth Camp on the eastern side of Lake Jacksonville.

Camp Courage is a week-long summer camp that gives disabled children the opportunity to experience a summer camp like any other child. Camp Courage is a non-profit that is completely supported by donations each year.

Despite the heat wave that moved into the area this week, 21 campers still came from far and wide to spend the week with friends at a camp that has no air conditioning.

John Hunter with Camp Courage says despite the high heat this week, the campers were not dissuaded at all. “Well, it’s a little more difficult when it gets extremely hot. Obviously, our activities slow down quite a bit. We mingle in the Rec Hall more and maybe in the Craft Hall with fans on. You know, just enjoy each other’s company as opposed to volleyball or baseball.

We did have a volleyball game before the heat got too bad this week, and we’ve gone swimming a couple of times this week and gone fishing. The Jacksonville Fire Department came out and they brought one of their pumper trucks out and hosed everybody down and allowed us to climb on the truck and play on the truck and kind of experience that.”

Not only is funding donated to make the camp happen each year, but different area organizations donate time and resources to give the campers a special experience.

On Wednesday the Jacksonville Ambucs provided lunch for the campers. Thursday night was the annual Camp Courage dance in the recreation hall. Hunter says a pair of area groups always donate time to make the dance a memorable time for the campers.

The band has been coming out for many many years as well as The Grotto Bus. It’s great, the kids look forward to it every year. Actually, they go home, they unpack, wash their clothes and repack for the next year.

Monday of camp comes around and it’s “Is The Grotto Bus coming this year?”, “what’s the band, what band are we having?” And well it’s the same band that we had last year, that’s our band. Harmony Grits they’ve been coming out for many many years.”

Hunter says the number of campers was down again this year. The camp which started in 1976 with eight attendees, has a cap of 35 campers each year.

Hunter says they would like to see the numbers come up as there is plenty of room for more. “We have twenty-one this year. We’re down several and we’d like to find some new campers so if anybody out there has a physically handicapped child or know somebody who does that might benefit from our camp, we’d be glad to talk to them.”

To make or donation, or to find out more information about how to attend Camp Courage next year, go online to the camp web page at or call John Hunter at 217-473-6363.