Charles Campbell Children’s Camp imparted lifelong experiences
Charles Campbell Children’s camp spends a week giving kids opportunities they’ve never had before.
Charles Campbell Children’s camp spends a week giving kids opportunities they’ve never had before.
Sophie Czirr

On July 16 in Red Lodge, Montana, counselors and campers from all over came to Charles Campbell Children’s Camp. 

This camp is specifically directed towards children who are differently abled. They attend the camp to participate in numerous activities, and the counselors help guide them throughout the week. 

“We give them an experience they wouldn’t have otherwise,” junior Kendal Eden said. “I’ve had so many kids come up to me and tell me they wished the real world was like this, or they wish people were this nice in the real world. It gives them a break from everything they have to deal with.”

The amount of activities varied giving the kids plenty of opportunities to enjoy their week of freedom. 

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“We went on a hike,” Cody High School freshman Gabe Grant said. “We played in a splash park, did arts and crafts, pranked other campers and counselors and played games.”

We went on a hike. We played in a splash park, did arts and crafts, pranked other campers and counselors and played games.

— Cody High School freshman Gabe Grant

While the campers were able to have a fun experience throughout the week, the counselors got the opportunity to truly know these kids and see them for who they are and not their condition.

“I hate the word disabled because they’re not disabled,” Eden said. “They are just differently abled. They can do whatever you can just in a different way.” 

On Thursday, July 20th the camp held a parent’s night right before the kids had to leave. There was a ceremony for those over eighteen who graduated from the camp, and it gave the chance for parents of both campers and counselors to see the incredible work that was being done. 

“I was touched and impressed with how kind everyone was with all of the kids,” Jenna Eden said. “Every kid felt like they were loved and wanted.” 

Sometimes this camp is the only sanctuary for these kids. For others, it’s a chance to experience a sense of freedom from what holds them back in their daily lives. 

“Camp has changed my life,” anonymous said. “I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything in the world.”

Camp has changed my life. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything in the world.

— anonymous

Having the opportunity to be a counselor may look different to everyone, but all staff and counselors achieve their goal of making the campers have an amazing time. 

“Being a counselor to me means helping the campers have fun and try to include as many campers as possible,” Grant said. “I think I helped my campers come out of their shell and make new friends.” 

Charles Campbell Children’s Camp provides an experience that anyone in attendance won’t forget. 

“It honestly was life-changing,” Eden said. “I remember the very first day I went there was this one little girl who came up to me and told me I changed her life, and she felt so safe here. That’s when I realized I was actually making a difference.” 

Once applications come out, an opportunity is opened for counselors who can’t wait to get back, any new members hoping to attend, and campers who have been counting down the days since last July. 

“Most days I can’t tell you the date,” anonymous said. “But I can tell you how many days until camp.” 

Special thanks to the incredible staff: Bryce Aagard, Tanner Eller, Doug Hanson, Sue Hanson, Mike Henley, Annie Kelley, Tev Kelley, Brittany Kraft, Barb Leggate, Jerry Leggate, Warren Leggate, Caitlin Madsen, Kyle Madsen, Rita Ortiz, Gary Van Dyke, and Wendy Veatch. 

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    Brandon PreatorDec 15, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    I had never heard of this before. Sounds like a pretty amazing group of students to volunteer their time for this camp. But it sounds like they may have been enriched in ways they never would have guessed. Thank you for doing good PHS!