Breaking News
More () »

Camp Wamp gives children with disabilities life-changing outdoor experience

Steve Wampler of Coronado opened the camp at Deer Lake - near North Lake Tahoe - to help children living with disabilities have a full camp experience.

As much as adults tell children to dream big, actions speak louder than words. In this Zevely Zone I met a Coronado man who opened a camp and climbed a mountain to help children living with disabilities.  

One look at Camp Wamp's promotional video and you'll be hooked. The video starts with these words, "Deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a magical place." 

Then we meet the founders of Camp Wamp: "Hi guys, hello everyone we are Steve and Elizabeth Wampler and we are the founders of Camp Wamp."  

Steve Wampler was born with a severe form of cerebral palsy. He said when he was delivered as a baby he did not get enough oxygen. Steve has lived his life in a wheelchair, but he's never been a person to fight his challenge sitting down. 

Nine years ago, Steve wanted to do something spectacular to put his nonprofit - the Wampler Foundation - on the map. He became the first person with CP to climb the Yosemite's El Capitan. 

"It is the biggest rock face in the world," said Elizabeth.  

I met the couple near their home in Coronado. Steve's wife Elizabeth said her husband climbed twice the height of the Empire State Building two inches at a time with ropes and pulleys. 

"Life is at your fingertips," said Steve with a huge smile on his face. 

When Steve was a child he attended a camp in the Sierras that taught him not to be angry about cerebral palsy. 

"I don't care if you're mad about it or sad about it, you are missing out on your life," said Steve. 

So, he founded Camp Wamp at Deer Lake for children to make memories bigger than the trees that surround them. Camp Wamp encourages kids to take the road less traveled then sleep under the stars and make a wish. 

"It's amazing, because mentally it does wonders for every kid," said Steve. 

According to their website:

 "Camp Wamp's survival challenges encourage teamwork, self education, and fosters goal setting. We believe being a part of a team is one way to enjoy adventures that the wilderness of the High Sierra's has to offer. Nature is our living classroom, and the more children are exposed to elements, the more they tend to appreciate the natural environment. Many years ago, the kids of Camp Wamp named themselves Wampers. It is great fun for them to have a name of their own, and to be a part of an important club… Which they are! When you come to camp, you become a Wamper for life."

Steve and Elizabeth want to take the sadness out of disability and substitute it with the laughter that can only come from smiles sitting around a camp fire or jumping into a lake. 

"It really comes down to no matter who you are - disability, no disability - it is still about what you can do. So, he has the use of one limb, he's been in a wheelchair his whole life but it's about what you are left with - what can you do?" said Elizabeth. 

Steve graduated from college and fell in love with Elizabeth. They raised two children together and laugh because the first time Elizabeth met Steve she didn't know what to say. 

"How are you today?" recalled Elizabeth awkwardly tapping Steve on the leg.

"And I said 'oh, this lady is crazy, what is wrong with her?' " said Steve laughing.

But Elizabeth no longer sees Steve's CP. She only sees an amazing man. 

A movie about Steve called "Wampler's Ascent" could soon be shown on Netflix. 

"Did you put you the Wampler Foundation on the map?" I asked. 

"Oh, yes. We did. More than we ever, ever anticipated," they said.  

Steve says all he ever wanted was to do was scream this message from a mountaintop: "You can do whatever you put your mind to."

Camp Wamp offers a one-to-one counselor to camper experience. The nonprofit organization is funded by donations. If you'd like to help or learn more about the foundation go to StephenJWamplerFoundation.org.

Paid Advertisement