On July 5th through July 11th, Vero Beach Lodge 1774 sent 11 deserving children, ages 9 through 13, from area schools to the award winning, 405 acre, Florida Youth Elks Camp in Umatilla, FL. This wonderful camp is accredited through the American Camp Association, provides a 2 to 7 staff to camper ratio and maintains a dedicated infirmary staffed with registered nurses.
Everyone loaded up on the bus at the Lodge Sunday morning and prepared for the 2 ½ hour ride up to the camp. We watched a movie on the way and stopped for a quick lunch at “Mickey D’s” before our arrival at about 11:30 am. All the children were signed in, given a tee-shirt, hat and camp water bottle. They were then escorted to the air conditioned cabin where they were going to spend the next week with 7 other children from around the state and one counselor. The week was full of canoeing on the property’s lake, swimming in one of the camp’s large pools at the Bates Aquatic Center, state of the art ropes course, the nightly camp fires!
Our return trip was Saturday July 11 and we arrived at the lodge at about 12:30 pm to a parking lot of anxious and excited parents. The children performed several songs and cheers they learned at camp and I could tell all the parents were touched as they were filming with their cell phones. To say the least they all had a good time and many say they will be returning next year.
There are many to thank starting with the volunteers. Margaret Hearndon provided the lion’s share of work in contacting the children and parents that would benefit from this program. Additionally, she arranged the physicals for those who needed them done and chaperoned on the trip too! Michelle Klager who worked with Margaret and the children in getting the applications in as well as chaperoning and raising funds. Craig Waskow for all his help in logistics and chaperoning along with his wife Pat. And last but not least, Jane Burton who has helped chaperone the past two years on our bus rides.
None of this would be possible without the generosity of several of our caring members, Lodge 1774 Charities and the Irish Committee who stepped in to fill the gap. Thank you all so very much.
I am proud to be a part of this charitable endeavor and Lodge 1774 and I look forward to Camp 2016!
Youth Activities Chairman