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A special camp for a special cause

August 6, 2012

Randy Mallory, Blind Camp coordinator, is shown checking out the canoes on Laurel Lake at Laurel Lake Campground located near Rossiter. (Photo by Larry McGuire of The Punxsutawney Spirit)

ROSSITER — This is the time of year that there are a lot of camps being held by different church groups and other organizations; however, something new is coming to our area: Blind Camp.

Blind Camp will be hosted by Laurel Lake Retreat & Conference Center Tuesday, Aug. 21 through Friday, Aug. 24.

Laurel Lake Lodge is owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church and is located at 76 Lodge Rd., Rossiter, just south of the west entrance to Hemlock Lake on SDA Camp Road.

This year the camp is going to team up with Randy Mallory, coordinator of Blind Camp, who has put together the first camp for the visually impaired, or blind camp, in the area. He has had prior experience with other blind camps located out of state.

Mallory said he first contacted Gary Moran, director of Laurel Lake Camp, about the idea, Moran said he too had been thinking of hosting a Blind Camp at Laurel Lake.

He said there are numerous businesses and people in the community that have joined together to sponsor this special event.

“This has been a real blessing for the community to come through with start up ideas of having blind camp here in our area,” he said.

Campers will stay in modern cabins on the first level that have their own bathrooms and shower facilities, Mallory said, adding that a staff counselor will be assigned to each cabin.

He said the camper to sighted staff ratio will be 1:1 for all activities.

Activity directors will lead events for expertise and safety, Mallory said.

Lifeguards will be on duty for all water recreation, and life jackets will be provided for all water recreation, he said.

Mallory said a staff nurse will be on-site for medical assistance and all meals will be prepared on-site and served at the main lodge.

The walking area between the cabins and the main lodge will be roped, and educational activities will be designed for hands-on learning, Mallory said.

Some of the other recreational activities include: Horseback riding, swimming, beeper ball (which is a soft-ball that makes a beeping sound so the sightless camper knows where to swing at the ball, which is often placed on a tee).

Mallory said the bases even emit a beeping sound for the visually impaired to run the bases. Other activities include canoeing, archery, crafts, horsemanship training and the nature center.

Moran said the camp hosts six children’s summer camps and week-long church camps throughout the year.

The camp has hosted various organizations such as nursing groups, and some from as far away as Nevada, family reunions and weddings.

He also spoke of the different facilities and activities the camp has to offer to the children who will be spending their time at the camp.

“We have a lake, and we have an iceberg which is a climbing tower, blob, aqua-jump and teeter-totter for the kids to enjoy on the lake and fishing,” he said.

Laurel Lake has even been home to visitors for Groundhog Day.

Moran said they have a lot of families that like to rent the facilities for Phil’s big day.

Volunteers will help campers enjoy all the activities a summer camp has to offer, Moran said.

For more information and camp application, call 938-9300 or check the camp website at: www.laurellakecamp.org.

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