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Camp history

Photo: Camp groundsCamp Challenge is a statewide facility owned and operated by the Florida Easter Seals Society. The affiliated local Easter Seal Societies and various rehabilitation centers from the core of support with campers, camperships, and financial assistance.

The planning for the camp centers around the needs of the severely handicapped for a specially designed facility to provide recreational and social adjustment, with the added incentives of challenge and competition toward personal and group accomplishments.

The location near Orlando was not by accident. First, a central location was desired to serve the entire state and second, the land would have Photo: Campers gathering at the flagto be free. Through the efforts of a Board member, Mrs. Sydney L. Weintraub of Miami, Mr. Stanton D. Sanson agreed in 1960 to donate 50 acres of his Mt. Plymouth Lakes tract on State Route 46 between Mount Dora and Sanford. The adjoining citrus groves have been planted since by the Deltona Corporation (Mackle Brothers). On the west boundary is a lake bed which was diked to form Mary's Pond in 1971. In 1973, the Deltona Corporation donated 13 adjacent acres of orange grove making a total of 63 acres for the camp site.

In planning Florida's first camp without architectural barriers, the state director drew upon the New York Herald-Tribune's experience with camps for the handicapped, together with visits to Easter Seals camps in other states.

Photo: Campers at Rifle RangeIn 1961, with General Arnold J. Funk of Sarasota as president of the state society and with Dr. Bruce Thomason of the University of Florida as chairman of the Camp Committee, work was begun. The first session was held in 1961 with only the hygiene facilities and the pool constructed. A circus tent was borrowed for a dining hall, and the 108 charter campers and all staff lived in borrowed squad tents. A mobile therapy trailer served as the dispensary.

Camp Challenge now has 11 winterized cabins, two dormitories, ADL building, clinic, dining hall, arts and crafts building, maintenance workshop, and nature, archery and riflery enclosures.

American Camping Assoc. LogoCamp Challenge is a fully accredited by the American Camping Association and played a major role in the development of the current standards for Easter Seal Camps.