Jose Manuel Felipe, a sixth-grader at Russellville Middle School, is among children to experience Camp Courage.

RMS student experiences life of Helen Keller through Camp Courage

By Staff Reports

A recent trip to Ivy Green, the home of Helen Keller, will be remembered for years to come by a group of students who got an up-close look at the life of Keller – including Jose Manuel Felipe, a sixth-grader at Russellville Middle School.

The students, who came from three states, attended Camp Courage Sept. 20-23. Most camp activities were held at Ivy Green, Keller’s birthplace and childhood home in Tuscumbia.

The goal of the intensive camp, according to coordinators, is to encourage students in grades fourth through sixth who are vision and/or hearing impaired, to use their abilities to make a difference in their school, their community and the world, just as Helen Keller did. Keller overcame losing her vision and hearing as toddler to become an author, lecturer, advocate for the disabled and inspiration to people around the world.

The campers watched scenes from “The Miracle Worker” play, toured Ivy Green, created crafts, participated in self-esteem and team building activities, went fishing on Pickwick Lake and toured Cypress Cove Farm in Red Bay. There were also activities for their parents.

Sue Pilkilton, executive director of the Helen Keller Birthplace and an organizer of Camp Courage, said it’s heartwarming to see how the children interact and help one another.

“It’s amazing how quickly the campers bond and form friendships that will last a lifetime,” Pilkilton said. “Without being told to do so by their counselors, the vision-impaired students help those who are hearing impaired, and the hearing-impaired campers help the ones who are vision impaired. Even during the camp, they are using their abilities to make a difference and help others.”

There is no charge to the campers or their families who attend Camp Courage. Generous donations from sponsors make the camp possible.

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