The Stephen J. Wampler Foundation’s Camp Wamp, which provides outdoor adventures to children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other physical disabilities, is getting a new home near Lake Tahoe, California.
A donation from an Arizona couple who asked to remain anonymous allowed the foundation, named for a renowned climber with cerebral palsy, to purchase a campground from the Girl Scouts of Northern California. The location is at Deer Lake in the High Sierras.
Wampler is an engineer whose cerebral palsy severely restricts his movement. He earned international acclaim in 2010 for climbing the sheer wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park with a special chair and pulley system. A documentary that his wife Elizabeth, a film maker, did on his quest has won dozens of awards.
The Wampler Foundation will skip a Camp Wamp adventure for the first time in 15 years this summer so it can renovate the 129-acre property, which includes 13 buildings in addition to the 34-acre lake and surrounding woods. It will resume the program in the summer of 2018.
“Saying goodbye is never easy, but knowing Camp Deer Lake will continue to be a magical place for children who otherwise have limited access to camp experiences eases the sadness,” Marina Park, the chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Northern California, said in a press release. “Once the sale is completed, we look forward to working with Camp Wamp to explore opportunities for Girl Scouts with disabilities to attend the camp, and as well as the potential for Girl Scouts to volunteer at the camp.”
Wampler has had cerebral palsy since birth. Heuses an electric wheelchair because has no use of his legs and only minimal use of one arm.
His condition has never prevented him from participating in whatever he set his mind to, even when he was a child, he said. In fact, he attended summer camps when he was a youngster and adolescent.
“Being able to be a ‘normal kid’ and do things like camp, hike, fish and swim during the summer showed me early on it is OK to dream the way all children should,” he said. “This new campsite gives us the opportunity to expand access to this important life experience to campers from all over the United States and the world, and we especially look forward to welcoming Girl Scouts in the very near future.”
Elizabeth Wampler’s documentary, “Wampler’s Ascent,” dealt with the couple’s love story as well as the El Capitan climb.
Getting up the mountain’s sheer face is one of the world’s most daunting climbing challenges.
Each time Wampler tugged at the pull-up bar that was part of his climbing rig, he was able to lift himself only two to six inches.
Wampler was the first person with cerebral palsy to climb El Captain Mountain. He did it to focus attention on the foundation’s mission of sending children with disabilities to summer camp.
“Wampler’s Ascent” has received 20 film festival awards and other honors. The film is available for purchase and download. All proceeds go to helping disabled children attend summer camp and to running Camp Wamp.