I do this every summer, and it’s a big win for the kids and a big win for the volunteers. I think it will only get bigger.
Eugene, call him "Louie," grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He moved to San Diego during high school, where he met his wife of 32 years, Lori, on his 18th birthday. He then moved to Ontario to work on her Dad's dairy farm. The couple soon married and several years later moved to Oregon where they built a dairy farm, which has grown to 1800 milkers and about 1800 calves and dry stock. That's a big operation. Louie and Lori have opened their farm to local schools for many years. They have about 3000 children come through between March and June each year, and their daughter Stacey serves as their tour guide. The kids feed the calves, go on hayrides, and learn how milk makes its way from the cows to their kitchen table. Louie and Lori have four children and two grandchildren. Their son and one son-in-law work side-by-side on the farm with Louie. Lori will join Louie on the cruise.
Louie has always been active in volunteering, and he has passed that spirit on to his own family. In 1997, he met a disabled man, a quadriplegic, and they decided to establish a summer camp for disabled children and their families. Louie's friend ultimately dropped out of the venture. A Board of Directors was founded, and they established Camp Attitude in Oregon. The camp has taken on a life of its own, and Louie serves as a board member and camp director.
Camp Attitude, as we know it today, was restarted back in 2006, and it is open to children with disabilities and their families free of charge for one week during the summer every year. The camp is open for two months, so different "campers" cycle through each week. Each disabled camper has a high school student called a "buddy" who works with him or her for the entire week. For many of these families, this is the highlight of their year. None of the staffers are paid, and everyone who volunteers as a "buddy" pays to volunteer and be part of the camp. It takes about 125 volunteers to run one camp. Says Louie: "I have great employees on the farm, and they are as much a part of this ministry as Lori and I. Also, the volunteer staff that helps all eight weeks is awesome. And I am proud that every dollar we receive is spent in direct support of our campers. Our goal is to make this camp a model for others across the country, and it looks like that is beginning to happen."