MDC camp offers outdoor skills and family fun for children with hearing impairments

News from the region
Kansas City
Published Date

Iconium, Mo. -- Zavia Wheeler studied edible wild plants and seeds, hiked among oak trees and broke some balloons at an archery target range. Then the 13-year-old from Blue Springs crowned her afternoon with fishing for channel catfish at a stocked pond.

“I’ve only caught one so far,” Wheeler said on the pond bank. But that was soon followed by big smiles and “I’ve got another one” as she reeled in her second catfish.

Smiles and fun were the goals for 150 campers and 70 volunteers at the 11th annual MDC Discover Nature Families Outdoor Skills Camp for the Hearing Impaired. The event was held Aug. 11 and 12 at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation in St. Clair County.

Activities for hearing impaired youths and their families included canoeing and kayaking, archery, shooting, boat rides on Truman Lake, a climbing tower, fishing, swimming and nature hikes. Interpreters using sign language were on hand at most activities to help communicate skill and safety messages to youths with hearing difficulties.

Uriah Anderson, 18, of Smithton, has attended for five years. What was her favorite thing this year?

“The boat ride,” Anderson said, with the lake’s scenery plus the wildlife spotted including an eagle.

“We enjoy the family time and being here at camp with the other families,” said Uriah’s mom, Tiffany Anderson.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) hosted 35 families at the event with help from partners including: Missouri Conservation Agents Association, Missouri School for the Deaf, United Bow Hunters of Missouri, Compton Traditional Bowhunters and the Boy Scouts of America.

Campers got a break when temperatures turned cool compared to weather earlier this summer.

“It’s been a great camp,” said Chris Capps, an MDC outdoor skills specialist and one of the event organizers. “The weather was phenomenal and the families had a lot of fun.”