County students enjoy inaugural Camp Courage

By Dennis Sherer

For the FCT

TUSCUMBIA – Blaise Murray says he will never forget the three days he spent at Camp Courage, a Helen Keller Experience in Tuscumbia.
“It was lots of fun, especially the fishing,” said Murray, a student at Russellville Middle School.

“I made new friends and learned about Helen Keller and how she overcame her disabilities.”
His mother, Michelle Murray, said the camp allowed the campers to use their abilities to overcome the challenges they may face in life.
A goal of the intensive camp that was based at Ivy Green, the birthplace of Keller, was to encourage the hearing or visually impaired students to be courageous and use their abilities to make a difference in the world.
Keller overcame the challenges of being deaf and blind to become an author, lecturer and champion of disabled people around the world.
During the camp, the students, who ranged in age from 7 to 12, made pottery and candles, learned about the plants that grow at Ivy Green, went fishing on Pickwick Lake and explored Cypress Cove Farm in Red Bay.
“We had fun. I loved it,” said Christlin Hester, a student at Phil Campbell Elementary School.
Her father, Kellin Hester, said the camp was a tremendous learning experience for the campers.

“It was awesome, she loved it.”
State Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay, who came up with the idea for Camp Courage, said the camp had some surprising outcomes.
“Before the camp, we were thinking about all the things we were going to teach the campers,” Morrow said. “As it turned out, the children wound up teaching the adults.
“They thought me about love and how no matter how great our challenges may be, they can be overcome.”
The inaugural session of Camp Courage was limited to 10 students from northwest Alabama. Future camps will expand to include campers from throughout Alabama, other states and other nations.
Sponsors of Camp Courage were the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation, Optometry Cares – the American Optometric Association Foundation, University of North Alabama, Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Toyota Foundation, Helen Keller Hospital, Colbert County Community Development Fund, Timmy Horton Outdoors and Muscle Shoals Bass Anglers.

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