Cypress Cove welcomes campers

“This is my favorite day of the year,” State Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow said as children filed off of a University of North Alabama bus at Cypress Cove in Red Bay Sept. 22.

It was the third day of Camp Courage: A Helen Keller Experience. Nineteen students in fourth through sixth grades turned out at Cypress Cove – the nature preserve, bird watching trail, event venue and the home of Morrow.

Camp Courage is an intensive camp for children who are visually or hearing impaired. The campers arrived in Tuscumbia Sept. 20 and participated in several learning activities Thursday, Friday and Saturday before coming to Red Bay at noon Saturday and enjoying lunch before heading to Cypress Cove.

It’s a favorite experience for many of the campers. “I wish I could come more than once,” said sixth-grader Avalee Williams.

At Cypress Cove the students had the chance to experience farm life the way Helen Keller did. They milked a simulated cow, held and petted chickens and hand-washed clothes.

“We want it to be a real experience like Helen Keller actually had,” explained Sue Pilkilton, chair of the Camp Courage Committee.

A new feature this year was a sandbox filled with raw corn kernels the students could sit and play in.

“It’s a tactile experience for them, which is how Helen Keller lived,” said Kathy Johnson, who, along with her family, helps organize and prepare Cypress Cove every year for the campers and helps make sure the students get a full experience.

“They’ve been setting up here for a week,” Morrow said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

Students from Alabama, Georgia and all the way up in West Virginia attended this year.

“Some of these children feel like they’re all alone with what they’re going through, but this camp shows them that they’re not,” Dr. Martha Morrow said.

This was the sixth year of Camp Courage: A Hellen Keller Experience, and organizers said it was the largest turnout so far.

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