Camp Leo creates safe-haven for visually impaired kids, teens

In the hustle and bustle of their awards banquet dinner Friday night, you can see the camaraderie that Camp Leo Campers share.

Camp Leo creates safe-haven for visually impaired kids, teens

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - In the hustle and bustle of their awards banquet dinner Friday night, you can see the camaraderie that Camp Leo Campers share.

Despite the week getting off to a rough start with their vehicle reservation getting messed up, they said the 2019 camp was a huge success.

“I have two rules: one, don’t sweat the small stuff and two, everything is small stuff," Camp Director Ben Snead said with a laugh.

This Lowcountry camp is one of three camps in South Carolina for the visually impaired, and it’s a safe haven for those that attend.

“I insist that we’re family,” Snead said. “Everybody. Counselors, campers- and we have to look after each other. I insist that there will be no bullying, because they get that in school because of their vision problems. There’s no picking on each other. This is the one place where that won’t happen.”

Shelby Craig is one of many Camp Leo success stories. Born prematurely, she has a genetic mutation that left her blind. She’s been coming to the camp since she was six. She’s now 23 and it’s her first year as a counselor.

“I always felt sort of isolated in my old school as a blind person, because after elementary school, I was the only blind student in school, so for me, it offered a chance to get to know other people who were like me and to spend some time with people who could relate to the challenges that I was facing,” Craig said.

The camp is for kids ages seven to 17. It is an opportunity for them to gain some independence.

“Often-times, if you have a child with any kind of disability, the parents are a little more over-protective, and I can understand that, so my job is to make certain that they can feel comfortable,” Snead added.

It doesn’t cost the campers a dime, thanks to the community. Funds raised by the Lions Club at the RBC Heritage help, and the St. Andrews Church allows them to use the building for free. Places like Sea Pines allow the campers use of their pool and the list goes on and on, all so the kids can enjoy being kids.

For more information on Camp Leo, click here.

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