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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Handicamp changes lives

Summer camp is not just for children, at least not at Lutheran Hills. For three weeks a summer, the 750-acre wooded grounds in Brown County, Ind., is home to Handicamp, a series of one-week events for developmentally disabled people ages 18-65.

A product of Lutheran Child and Family Services' Lutheran Disability Ministries, Handicamp offers campers activities including Bible study, art and woodcrafts, swimming, campfires and hiking.

Each participant is paired with a volunteer who receives a day of training before the campers arrive. Volunteers stay in the same cabin as their companion camper, helping them with everyday activities and forming a friendship.

All volunteers — ages 14 through retirement — are challenged to set aside their needs and desires and focus on their camper's needs.

Handicamp's two main goals are to give campers a vacation that is Christ-centered and to give volunteers an opportunity to become a friend with a person who is developmentally disabled.

There is minimal personal time for the volunteer companions with the exception of one hour each day for group devotions, sharing and support. However, the gift of time and love holds such meaning to the campers that volunteers usually walk away profoundly changed.

For more information, call (317) 357-2566.


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