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This summer, the Lions Club is hoping to expand the camp's reach by opening it up for as a retreat, free of charge, to Pennsylvania's disabled veterans and their families.
Project New Hope, while in its infancy here, has been established in other states, including Minnesota and New York.
The Lions in Pennsylvania tried to kick it off at Beacon Lodge last year, but failed to get enough responses from the disabled veterans they were hoping to attract.
They're hoping that by starting the process earlier this year, word will get out for those veterans and their families to take advantage of the retreat.
It's nothing more than a free time for enjoyment, said Charles A. Finney, a past president of the Exeter Township Lions Club and past district governor who serves as the vice president on the Beacon Lodge Camp's board of directors.
"Your meals are included, your room is included," he said. "It's just for them to have an enjoyable (time) and enjoy their family."
The Beacon Lodge will be available to veterans two separate times this summer when child campers aren't there: July 26-29 and Aug. 6-9.
Veterans and their families can choose from 12 air-conditioned cabins, each accommodating up to seven family members.
"We have a full-size swimming pool, a zip line, rock climbing, canoeing on the river, bowling alleys," Finney said of the 583-acre camp. "We have the ideal situation there. It's a really beautiful spot."
The Lions Club has shied away from providing any sort of counseling during the retreats, opting instead to focus on providing a fun escape for disabled veterans and their families.
"If you get the soldiers together, sometimes they can relate and talk things out better than talking to you and me, who didn't experience what they did," Finney said. "There will be activities there for the kids, so if the husband and wife want to go off on their own and just relax, they can do that.
"Just having a good time, that's what it boils down to."
Contact Becca Y. Gregg: 610-371-5032 or [email protected]
To register or donateThrough Project New Hope, the Pennsylvania Lions Club’s Beacon Lodge Camp will be open to disabled veterans from all eras and their families for retreats free of charge, July 26-29, and Aug. 6-9. To sign up for a retreat, veterans are asked to call the Beacon Lodge Camp at 814-542-2511, or email [email protected] Those interested in contributing can send donations to:
Beacon Lodge/Project New Hope114 State Route 103 S.Mount Union, PA 17066.For more information, visit beaconlodge.com.