Campers get chance to enjoy activities, fun
Thursday, 23 August 2012 by Deborah Wilber
For a rare disease that occurs approximately once in every 3,000 births, Camp Just Like Me is the perfect place. Fifteen-year-old Hunter Farrington is among the few diagnosed with Arthrogryposis, a muscle and joint disorder.
Hunter has been attending camp for eight years now, and he said, "I like being around other kids like me."
Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Kids is nestled in a rural area just outside of Salado on the Lampasas River.
They are the venue for Camp Just Like Me and many others programs geared toward a certain disability. Set up independently through hospitals, organizations and educational facilities, they reserve time at the retreat.
Open year around, campers have the option to stay five days for their summer program or a weekend with the whole family.
PKRK's purpose is to provide a positive, influential environment in which kids with special needs, ranging from ages 5-21 years of age, can come experience comradery with those alike and their families.
Fishing, archery and high ropes are just a few of the fun activities available on the 125-acre property.
"My favorite things to do are the big swing and the zip line," said Emanuel Gomex, 14, of Garland.
Employed by PKRK since 2009, the recently promoted Director, Laura Nickel, goes on to explain how the big swing operates and the sportsmanship that is brought about in kids with impaired mobility.
"The changes occurring in these kids' lives are remarkable, and being able to experience them first-hand is powerful and fulfilling," Nickel said.
PKRK may not have started as a non-profit organization servicing between five and 6,000 kids per year, but it does have a remarkable foundation.
Grandparents Jim and Doreice Bowmer started Baby Charlie's Fishing Camp in loving memory of their 11-month-old grandson Charlie who passed away from a heart ailment. In the years following the Bowmers donated family land, built what is now the main house, went non-profit, and in 1993 PKRK was born.
Currently able to accommodate 62 campers comfortably in one house and two cabins, they wish to break ground on an equestrian and nature center in September.
Empowering children with special needs, The Variety of the Children's Charity of Texas recently merged with PKRK making these additions to the camp possible.
When young children battle with neurological differences, kidney disease, or some other impairment, a common bond is formed. It is with the help of PKRK and their affiliates that friendship and understanding takes place.
For more information about the Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children, visit www.peaceablekingdomretreat.com.