Campers from three states will experience the life of Helen Keller at Ivy Green

By  | September 18, 2018 | Filed under: News

TUSCUMBIA-A group of happy campers from around the South are headed to Colbert County to experience the life of Helen Keller.

Since 2013, students from as far away as Wisconsin, have attended Camp Courage, A Helen Keller Experience. The camp is based in Tuscumbia at Ivy Green, the home of Helen Keller. This year’s camp, Sept. 20-23, will include campers from Alabama, Georgia and West Virginia.

The intensive camp inspires children who are vision or hearing impaired and in grades 4-6, to celebrate their abilities and make a difference in the world, just as Helen Keller did. Helen Keller, who became blind and deaf as a child, overcame her disabilities – with the help of her teacher and lifelong friend Anne Sullivan – to become an author lecturer, activist for the disabled and inspiration to people around the world. She is known as America’s First Lady of Courage.

The campers will have dinner in the Keller’s dining room at Ivy Green and tour grounds of the historic home, experience the opening scene of The Miracle Worker play, create pottery and candles, decorate cupcakes, go fishing on Pickwick Lake, learn team-building skills and participate in hands-on learning activities at Cypress Cove Farm in Red Bay.  All of the activities are designed to help the children use their abilities and sharpen their senses. There is no charge to the children or their families for attending Camp Courage.

Generous donations from organizations, businesses and individuals make Camp Courage possible.

During the three-day camp, the students learn about Helen Keller and how she helped change the world.

Sue Pilkilton, executive director of Ivy Green, said it’s heartwarming to see how campers with impaired hearing take it upon themselves to assist those with vision impairments and those with vision impairments assist their fellow campers who are hearing impaired.

Pilkilton said the campers make lifelong friends with other students and the camp staff during Camp Courage.

“When I see how quickly the campers and the teachers bond and become close friends it reminds of Helen and Anne,” Pilkilton said.

Student teachers from the University of North Alabama serve as counselors for the camp. They are supervised by a team of Helen Keller Fellows, who are highly-qualified teachers of the deaf-blind.

The camp is very intense, but the smiles and laughter of the children are non-stop. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is having the most fun, the campers or the staff.

While the camp is designed to be a learning experience for the students, it becomes a learning experience for the staff and volunteers who are amazed how the dynamic youths refuse to allow limited vision or hearing stand in their way.

There are also learning opportunities for parents.

Parents often comment their children leave the camp with increased confidence in their abilities and improved self-esteem.

Campers say the camp makes them feel good about themselves and gives them courage to tackle any task.

 

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