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Camp Woodsmoke prepares for summer

Greensburg Daily News - 5/14/2019

May 14-- May 14--GREENSBURG -- Taking advantage of the what was supposed to be a relatively nice weekend of Indiana weather, almost 30 members of Lions Clubs gathered at their home cause, Camp Woodsmoke, to prepare it for another busy summer.

The facility is designed for sharing the beauty of nature and allowing people with disabilities to experience it on their terms.

Camp Woodsmoke is located at 9219 E. CR 640 N., Greensburg, in the far northeast corner of Decatur County. Its 264 acres include unspoiled forestland crisscrossed with wandering paths, some paved and some as wild as the gentle woodland creatures that live there.

A cheerful stream babbles through the forest and there's a playground designed for children of all abilities to enjoy. The paved trails and resting points through the quiet glades allow visitors to explore the windy forest trails in their wheelchairs unassisted, and abundant trees and wildflowers create a quiet and reverent backdrop for the small outdoor amphitheater there.

There's an old-fashioned dining hall with an ultra-modern kitchen, and a bath house with plumbing and cabins dot the forest landscape. There's even a small chapel where campers can thank God for all this beauty.

On rainy days, the light filters down to create a patchy mosaic of yellows, greens and browns on the forest floor. The sound of the falling rain and the cool breezes through the forest lull one into quiet wonder. This is definitely a beautiful piece of nature's artistic majesty, lovingly painted into the Indiana landscape.

Recently, the caretakers of the land interrupted the quiet peace to pull back the gray gloomy drab deposited there through the difficult 2018 winter.

"My job was to pressure wash the pull down garage doors that shield the main shelter house during the winter," said Kaywin Lindsey, longtime Lions Club member and supporter of Camp Woodsmoke. "We usually get about 4,000 kids through here during a summer, and we want it to be clean for them, so we get together in spring and take care of that clean-up."

Established in 1964 by the Lions Club of District 25-F, Camp Woodsmoke has grown to provide unique camping experiences to underprivileged children, individuals with mental or physical disabilities, and other worthy souls who might enjoy a communion with nature.

Primarily reserved for people with disabilities, there are 11 cabins that sleep eight to 10 people each, all handicapped accessible.

Camp Woodsmoke Caretaker Paul Bowling said, "Our dining hall is fully equipped with utensils, cookware, pots and pans, all for the use of the campers. We have natural trails that are not paved, and we have trails that are paved so those in wheelchairs can explore, too. Folks camp here the whole year round because all our cabins are heated. And people like to camp when there's snow on the ground. That's just a neat experience for them."

Giving priority to disabled campers, those involved with operating and caring for Camp Woodsmoke also allow church groups, Scouting groups and even wedding parties to use the facility.

Woodsmoke hosts a "Pork Chop Day" every year, usually in September, and tickets for the fundraiser are $10.

Because of Woodsmoke's 501(c)3 status, the process for making a reservation there is a bit different than at public campgrounds.

Interested campers must apply for the right to use the campgrounds by visiting the Camp Woodsmoke website (www.campwoodsmoke.org), printing an application, and then submitting it to any Lions Club District 25-F member to sign. Interested parties may also buy a memorial brick for $40 and have it lettered in honor of someone, or just to support the camp.

The process allows Lions Club members to know the groups using the campground fit the criteria for respectable campers and, of course, to insure the disabled are allowed first dibs.

"That's just the way it is," said Lion Ivan Nading, who's been a Lions Club member for 35 years. "We built this so that disabled folks could have a chance to enjoy nature like we do when we're here, and we expect all our campers to respect the beauty of it and take care of it like we do."

"It's actually a very educational experience camping here, or anywhere for that matter," Boling said. "It teaches them respect for the environment and teaches them to take care of things. Everyone should get a chance to enjoy this!"

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext 7011 or email at bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com.

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(c)2019 the Greensburg Daily News (Greensburg, Ind.)

Visit the Greensburg Daily News (Greensburg, Ind.) at www.greensburgdailynews.com

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