Camp Wamp is a summer camp for physically challenged kids. The traditional camp experience has been on pause because of the pandemic. This year, instead of campers going to The Sierra in California, Camp Wamp Across America is coming to them.
"Just because camp isn't happening we can still find connections across the country and make this thing as Camp Wamp-like as possible," Joe Wampler said.
Wampler is the son of Camp Wamp founder Stephen Wampler, a 52-year old with cerebral palsy who used a wheelchair to get around. Wampler wanted kids like him to experience the great outdoors.
"Growing up having a dad in a wheelchair who never let anything stop him, it's always been really difficult to make excuses within my household," Joe Wampler said.
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Rather than sit out another year because of the pandemic, the younger Wampler and four of his friends set off on a cross-country tour to bring Camp Wampler to the kids. Their stops have included Denver, Jackson Hole, and North Texas at the Flying 5B Ranch, where campers got a safari-like tour to see the animals and spent the day fishing.
"I think it was one of our best stops yet," Wampler said. "Every time I see one of these kids overcome something that they didn't think they were going to be able to do, it's a perspective change for me. Anything that's going on in my life, anything I'm struggling with seems so much smaller than it did before."
Camp Wampler Across America plans a stop in Phoenix next.
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"Every one of these kids can have an independent life and do all the things that every person aspired to do," Wampler said.