It would be no small feat for Mary Tatum to choose one favorite memory from Camp Freedom.
Southeast Christian Church’s Shine Disabilities Ministry leader has seen the glory of God in every moment of the annual summer camp for adults with disabilities at Country Lake Christian Retreat in Underwood, Indiana.
Each year, Tatum sees empty wheelchairs line the beach as those who use them daily get to enjoy the water slide, a huge flamingo float and paddle boats.
One year, a camper who is blind was able to pet a horse for the first time. Other campers were lifted from their wheelchairs to ride a horse.
Another year, Joel, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, shot an arrow at a target—even though he cannot hold a bow.
More than once, Tatum has sat up through the night with an adult camper who was not used to being away from home, realizing it may also have been the first time their parent or caretaker had a night alone.
Tatum said moments like these, and so many others, make serving at Camp Freedom one of the most joyful weekends of the year.
It’s a joyful weekend more than 100 volunteers have the opportunity to be a part of.
Tatum said that 118 campers are currently registered for this year’s camp scheduled for Friday, July 26, through Sunday, July 28.
Each camper is paired with a volunteer, and many spots are still open. Cleared Southeast volunteers are needed from noon July 26 to 2:30 p.m. July 28.
Throughout the weekend, campers and volunteers will worship, listen to teaching, swim in the lake and pool, play paintball, make crafts, ride horses and more.
“Our campers love coming to camp,” Tatum said. “My guess is some already have their bags packed for the weekend. Our goal is to show our campers more about who Jesus is while providing opportunities to participate in camp activities that may never have been accessible to them before.”
Serving at Camp Freedom includes meals and housing for the weekend. Tatum said that although it’s a sacrificial commitment, serving these campers is one of the best sacrifices to make all year.
“We don’t get much sleep,” she said. “We don’t get time to ourselves. But we do leave with a joy that is hard to explain and hard to find.”