Author: David Gigniliat
A Lion’s Pride
By David Gignilliat
Richard “Grover” Cleaveland admits he was touched last year when he heard a piece of a conversation from one of the campers at Camp Leo, an activity-packed weeklong enrichment camp for sight-impaired youth from throughout South Carolina.
“Last year, I overheard one of the campers say to one of our volunteers that ‘It’s so nice for a week not to be different,’ and I think that’s really the experience we try to provide for them,” said Cleaveland, who is president of the Hilton Head Island Noon Lions Club, one of three local Lions clubs that sponsors Camp Leo. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for children to do something in an environment that is developed to make them comfortable and allow them to experience the things that are going on around them.”
This year’s camp will take place July 10-16 at St. Andrews By-The-Sea Methodist Church, which uses its space to bunk, feed and entertains campers with a variety of unique activities, including beach walks and games, swimming, fishing, boating, scuba diving, kayaking and more. Other excursions include trips to local fire departments, an outing to the nearby Coastal Discovery Museum, and a nighttime visit to Harbour Town to hear the crowd-pleasing stylings of local legend Gregg Russell.
The Lions Club is a secular service organization, founded in 1917, with over 44,000 clubs worldwide, and over 1.3 million members in 206 countries. Founded with the motto of “We Serve,” Lions Club chapters focus most of their efforts on charitable work, to include, but not limited to sight conservation (which includes year-round eyeglass donation programs), health awareness, youth outreach and numerous other community-based programs
The first Camp Leo took place in 1975, initially as a collaboration between the Hilton Head Lions Club and the South Carolina Commission for the Blind. When the Commission lost its federal funding in 1981, the HHI Lions Club picked up the slack. Today, the weeklong camp is a collaboration of three local Lions Club chapters: Hilton Head Lions Club, Hilton Head Noon Lions Club and the Sun City Lions Club.
Most of the campers come from families that are financially unable to pay and must apply in advance for eligibility and admission into the program. This year, Cleaveland expects 30-35 campers, ranging in age from 6 to 16.
One of the chief fundraising components for Camp Leo is an annual charity golf tournament, which will be held Aug. 20 at Eagle’s Pointe in Bluffton. The tournament will feature a “Greens Keeper’s Revenge” format, where each hole will offer unique and challenging adjustments.
“Hopefully it’ll make you laugh more than cry.” Cleaveland joked.
For more information about Camp Leo and its annual charity golf tournament, please visit campleo.net or call (843) 842-6777. To learn more about the local chapters of the Lions Club and the history of the Lions Club worldwide, visit lionsclub.org. For information on the charity golf tournament, please contact Alan Arseneau at email@example.com or call (843) 836-2266.