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Assistance needed to hold camp for sight impaired

Blue Lake Methodist Camp executive director Phyllis Murray holds a photo of the “Summit,” a waterslide chosen to be one of the planned activities during the adult camp for the visually impaired. | Stephanie Nelson /Star-News

It has been said that, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but what if those eyes can’t behold anything?

That was the question posed to Andalusia Lions club members Wednesday as Blue Lake Methodist Camp executive director Phyllis Murray announced her plan to host a regional adult camp for those with low or no vision and their caregivers.

It is set for Sept. 26-28; however, communitywide assistance is needed to make the camp a reality, Murray said.

“We’re calling it our ‘X’ camp because we’re encouraging participants to experience, excel, expand and examine our extreme camp,” Murray said. “We all have challenges in our lives, but those people with sight impairments experience challenges every day that we don’t think about.

“This camp is designed to help those people ‘climb out of their box’ and get out of their same rut and experience Blue Lake and activities they otherwise might have thought were not available to them,” she said.

Activities such as motorcycle rides, water slides, archery contests, arts and crafts and even canoeing, she said.

“Yes, we’re going to take them, put them in a boat in the middle of Blue Lake and let them paddle,” she said, adding the qualifier under the supervision of a volunteer. “When we first thought about doing this camp, I said to my staffers we know that Blue Lake is beautiful, but what if you couldn’t see, would Blue Lake still be as beautiful?

“The answer is yes,” she said.

A recent visit of the Covington County blind and low vision outreach group was all the confirmation she needed, Murray said.

And thanks to the assistance of the group’s coordinator Wanda Scroggins, a plan was hatched to offer the wonders of the campground to the visually impaired public.

“This experience is not only going to be about recreation. It’s also about fellowship and education,” she said. “It will push us all to get a better understanding of our environment and the needs of each other.”

Murray said the camp is currently in the preliminary planning stages and with spots for 25-50 adults, “hopefully free of charge.”

“But to make that happen we need the community’s help,” she said. “Best we can figure is that it’s going to cost $125 per camper. We’re going to need volunteers, anyone who might can partner with resources, and of course, financial help.”

Volunteers will range from “people who can tell stories and take campers on nature walks to someone who has a unique talent or skill they’d like to demonstrate,” she said.

This camp is the first of its kind in the area, and the hope is to see it grow from a regional event to a national one, she said.

“We have the ability to make that happen,” Murray said. “One day, I’d like to see it expand more to include a children’s camp staffed by blind or low vision adults – just to prove to the children of what you can accomplish when set our mind to it.”

For more information or to offer assistance, contact Murray at 334-222-5407 or by e-mail at director@bluelakecamp.org, or Wanda Scroggins at 334-858-4302 or scroggins@webtv.net.