Community Spotlight: Making the most of summer at Camp Abe Lincoln

Local News

Organizers say every kid should be able to go to camp, no matter their financial situation

Hundreds of kids across the Quad Cities are spending summer at Camp Abe Lincoln.

Some of them are having the camp experience for the first time.

Local 4’s Tahera Rahman shows us how they’re able to get there and what sets Camp Abe Lincoln apart in the next segment of our Community Spotlight on Buffalo.

On the border of Blue Grass and Buffalo, Iowa, dozens of kids sprawl across 250 acres at Camp Abe Lincoln.

Paddleboarding, canoeing, an alpine climbing tower, horse programs and ziplines are just a few of the activities there.

“I do believe that we probably have the biggest spectrum and depth of programs available,” says Frank Klipsch, Scott County Family YMCA spokesperson.

Not only does this camp offer a wide spectrum of activities but just as important is who is able to enjoy it all.

Deshawn Shouts credits this camp for changing his life: About 10 years ago, he received his first scholarship.

“I was kind of a person who was quiet, kind of set back a little bit, didn’t talk very much. Didn’t really know how to be a leader, didn’t really know how to follow because I never had the role models in my life to follow,” Shouts says.

The financial aid helped Shouts come back year after year.

“Based on the road that I was on at the time, I probably wouldn’t know how to handle things in terms of expressing myself, how to dream big,” he says.

Now, Shouts is a counselor, known by campers young and old as Mr. Whispers.

Klipsch says more than half of the campers are on a need-based scholarship.

“I’ve had calls from the chief of police; from principals; from superintendents; from counselors; from parents; from pastors, who say, ‘God, we’ve got a great kid right here. I know when I look at them, they’ve got an outstanding mind behind them. What do we do? How do we get them out of a peer-pressure environment? How do we show them what they’re capable of?’ And this is it, this is where it happens,” Klipsch says.

No matter what situation a camper comes from, once they get here, everyone is encouraged to push their boundaries and test their fears.

And, hopefully, pass it on.

“Every closing campfire, the camp director tells us the starfish story,” Shouts says.

“I am a starfish and I’m trying to get more starfish. Can’t save them all, but making a difference in one could be making a difference to many,” he says.

We are shining the Community Spotlight on Buffalo all week.

Every night, we’ll bring you stories on Local 4 News at 10 about what makes Buffalo a great place.

On Friday, we’ll add to that with live newscasts from Buffalo days.

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