Lions Camp Tatiyee offers a special place for all to forge memories for a lifetime

A view of the transformative experience offered for all kids at Lions Camp Tatiyee. (Submitted photo)

One could argue we all, at one point or another, have had experiences during the hot summer months cherished as moments that helped shape the person we are today.

But not all of us have had the same opportunities to participate in a pick-up basketball game at a local park, a softball tournament in the evening hours of a heat wave or an impromptu dip at a local watering hole.

Sometimes those opportunities aren’t for everyone because not everyone was born on the same playing field, but that doesn’t mean solutions can’t be found so everyone can have the experiences many of us take for granted as rites of passage.

A camp-goer enjoying a dip in the pool at Lions Camp Tatiyee. (Submitted photo)

Since 1958, Lions Camp Tatiyee has been offering those with special needs the opportunity to forge memories to last a lifetime.

“Lions Camp Tatiyee enriches the lives of individuals with special needs by providing a life-changing summer camp experience promoting their emotional health, independence, self-esteem and confidence, entirely free-of-charge,” said Tanner Swanson of the outreach endeavor.

“We are the only free summer camp for special needs children in the state of Arizona and we are the only summer camp to focus on encouraging emotional health in the special needs community. For families beset with the burdensome medical and care bills of a child with special needs, life enriching experiences are difficult or impossible to afford.”

Lions Camp Tatiyee is at 5283 W. White Mountain Blvd. in Lakeside, Ariz.

Mr. Swanson says Camp Tatiyee is, and has been, working to change the conversation about what those with special needs can accomplish and the experiences they can have.

“Lions Camp Tatiyee believes that no child should be exempt from having a normal, happy childhood simply due to the severity of their need, or their inability to pay,” he said. “Lions Camp Tatiyee leads our field in adaptive programmatic innovation, providing diverse educational and recreational programming that includes: archery, chemistry, rock climbing, robotics, go-kart racing, cultural arts, and more.”

At Camp Tatiyee all perceptions are being challenged on a regular basis.

“These programs serve to challenge campers’ perceived limitations, providing them with a chance to prove to themselves that they can do anything they set their mind to,” Mr. Swanson said.

“When campers leave Lions Camp Tatiyee, they draw on their memories of racing down a go-kart track, building a robotic arm from scratch, or hitting a bullseye with their bow and arrow. These experiences remind our special needs campers that they are capable, they are strong, they are smart, and that they are worthy of a rich, full life.”

For 57 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.

Supporting efforts like Lions Camp Tatiyee speaks to that mission as the Charro Foundation offered a $5,000 grant to the outreach effort this calendar year to help broaden more horizons for more with special needs.

“Lions Camp Tatiyee will direct all the support from the Scottsdale Charros toward serving special needs youth from the Scottsdale area, as a part of our efforts to reach underserved communities,” Mr. Swanson said of the Charro support. “Funds will support a 6-day, 5-night life-changing summer camp experience for five campers from the Scottsdale area.”

Archery classes are just one of the activities offered for all participants at Lions Camp Tatiyee. (Submitted photo)

By offering Lions Camp Tatiyee with no charge, Mr. Swanson says, these opportunities for many are once-in-a-lifetime events.

“Families with an intensive-care, special needs child often struggle financially, logistically, and emotionally to meet the extensive medical and personal care needs of their child. As a matter of necessity, quality-of-life often become an after-thought,” he explained.

“Without free, accessible services, most families served by Lions Camp Tatiyee would never be able to send their child to camp. Lions Camp Tatiyee works with these families to ensure that their child is provided with empowering programming that addresses their emotional health, confidence, self-esteem, and independence.”

And, without the support of the Scottsdale Charros many within the special needs community would go without.

“The Scottsdale Charros are working to make the greater community a safer, happier, and more culturally rich place — everyone is much better off thanks to their efforts. They are truly the heroes of our shared community,” Mr. Swanson said of the impact the Charros have on the Scottsdale community.

“Lions Camp Tatiyee is deeply thankful for the support of the Scottsdale Charros, and we commit to improving the quality of life for special needs children in the Scottsdale area.”

Go to arizonalionscamp.org.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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