The Light Foundation recently wrapped up its third annual Outdoor Leadership Camp, it's second at its 400-plus acre facility, Chenoweth Trails, in Greenville, Ohio. The 10-day program, known as Camp Vohokase, brought together 12 boys from three different communities across the country: Greenville, Ohio, where Light was raised; Rhode Island, where he holds his annual fundraising event; and West Lafayette, Indiana, where he played at Purdue University.
LF Founder Matt Light says the boys participated in trail-based activities such as hunting, fishing and archery; painted a local recreation center as part of their community service project; visited area businesses during career day, and engaged in "fireside chats" about goals and expectations. They also enjoyed a Camp Yale ropes course, paint ball, a dirt bike riding program, and helped to build an outdoor living space with a grilling area and fireplace. "The main goal of the Camp is to break down prejudices and barriers," says Light. "At the end of the day, these kids realize that even with different backgrounds, they have a lot in common, like family issues, and peer pressure – but they find common ground and learn from one another. It's always a great experience for all of us."
The youth who attended admit the experience is life-changing. "Since the first camp I've learned a lot about myself. I was quiet, timid, and narcissistic," says Dan L. from Rhode Island, "but being able to interact with people who were going through what I was helped me come out of a shell and be more social with my peers. I've also learned how to help my friends and fellow campers deal with their problems," he adds, "and get through life without seeing others with 'thorns' in their eyes."
The accommodations were actually pretty nice by camp standards. The addition of electricity and running hot water in the showers this year resulted in less "rustic" conditions than in years past. Canvas tents were also replaced by circular domed tents called yurts, and cable TV's "Do It Yourself" network (DIY) built a state-of-the-art cooking area and fire pit in the Camp with help from the Connecticut distributor of Viking, an industry leader in high-end kitchen appliances. The total value of the project is nearly $200,000, and Light says he couldn't be more grateful. A segment shot on site will air later this year on DIY's "Indoors Out" show.
Light says many local and regional companies also stepped up to help, including: Stone Age Mfg. and Heartland Stone, both out of Oklahoma; Spencer Landscaping and Fourman's Sand and Gravel, both out of Greenville, OH; Cobble Systems out of Orlando, FL; and Dean Marisco and Derek Stearns of Stone by Stearns from his current home state of Massachusetts, who drove the whole project along for DIY.