It’s a place that leaves a lasting impression. A place that is often filled with the sounds of singing, people laughing, where the dining hall is not just a place to grab some food but a place to socialize and make friendships. Sometimes verbal conversations are a challenge but facial expressions and body language tell the story.

It’s a place that leaves a lasting impression. A place that is often filled with the sounds of singing, people laughing, where the dining hall is not just a place to grab some food but a place to socialize and make friendships. Sometimes verbal conversations are a challenge but facial expressions and body language tell the story.

Wheelchair races may be more common than games of hide and seek. Welcome to Wonderland Camp, a place where everyone is equal. Where fun is adapted to meet need sand abilities. Wonderland Camp is a facility dedicated to providing a residential summer camping experience for children and adults with disabilities. Located  off Highway W near the crossroads of Miller and Morgan counties, the camp offers weekly sessions throughout the summer on 230-some acres. A fully accessible camp that includes residential housing, medical facilities and miles of winding accessible trails throughout the woods right down to the shoreline. People will all types of disabilities attend each summer. The camp staff is there to put each camper first and to make sure they have the time of their life.

Say Wonderland Camp to Jill Wilke and her first thought is the excitement of the campers when they arrive on Sunday. “They are almost pushing their parents and caregivers out the doors for them to go home.”

It’s a place she knows well. It’s always been a part of her life. In fact, it was her grandfather who had a dream to carve out a place for campers with disabilities to come experience the great outdoors. A camp to match their special medical needs and provide them everything they needed for  their safety to have the freedom to enjoy nature.

Wilke serves on the Wonderland Board and through her work with the facility  is able to experience watching the dream her grandfather had more than 50 years ago continue to change lives. In fact, this year, Wilke will be taking part in the 50th Anniversary of the camp.

In 1969, Charles J. Miller had a dream he was determined to make a reality and he did. Miller and his brother-in-law donated more than 200 acres to the project. Working with various groups and the Missouri Jaycees, by 1972 the first campers were enjoying the outdoor experience. Since then the camp has grown and changed. A huge intricate tree house, a swimming pool and many other amenities create an atmosphere where campers can relax and experience a change of pace.

While there are fundraising events and other activities taking place throughout the summer, the big bash to celebrate the success of Wonderland Camp is scheduled for Sept. 14 with an anniversary party at the camp. The party will run from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during which time the camp will open its doors to the public with tours, and challenges on the road climbing wall along with other activities.

Wilke described her grandfather as a visionary and being able to be involved with what his vision has become is a legacy that she is proud of. There isn’t a time that she can remember when the camp wasn’t a part of her life and after 50 years, it continues to be a part of others lives.