Event promotes ‘profound’ camp experience

Herald Staff Writer

Judy Colby has always had a soft spot for people with special needs. Her only sibling, Joe Hussel, was mentally challenged.

“He was high functioning on the outer level,” Colby said. “But inside, he wouldn’t change his underwear. A gallon of ice cream was a meal for him. He just didn’t know that part of life.” 
In 1977, she and her husband, Dave, founded Anderson Woods, a summer camp in northern Perry County for adults and children with disabilities.

The wooded campground is nestled along the Anderson River, “so we just called it Anderson Woods,” Colby said. Joe, who died a number of years ago, visited the camp on occasion.

Sips, Samples & Songs, the camp’s annual fundraiser, will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Schaeffer Barn near the Riverwalk in Jasper. The event, now in its eighth year, will include food and wine tasting from local restaurants such as the Schnitzelbank, Villa Pizzeria and the Mill House.

Wineries will include Best Vineyards and Monkey Hollow, and the Dubois County Suds Club will have a home brew booth. Tickets cost $15. Children 6 years old or younger will be admitted free.

“You can taste everything from ribs to ice cream to pizza,” said Jane Balsmeyer, who serves on the camp’s fundraiser committee.

Kyle Lueken of Jasper will perform live music, and Nicole McClain of Huntingburg will lead a pumpkin-painting activity. There also will be a silent auction. Among the items up for bid will be Indiana Pacers tickets, a golf outing at the Donald Ross Course in French Lick and a dinner party for 16.

The event “helps the camp immensely,” said Colby, who lives near St. Meinrad. “It also lets people know what the camp is. ... There are people in Jasper that don’t know that it exists.”

In years past, the fundraiser has drawn as many as 400 people. Colby said the Schaeffer Barn has been the perfect venue because it’s “so in keeping with the log cabins we have at camp.”

Most of the organization’s board members live in Jasper, so “it just made sense to do it here,” she added.

She and her husband, who are both in their 70s, have begun to shift the camp’s day-to-day management to a younger couple, Megan and Isaac Gatwood. But Colby still presides over the group’s board of directors.

Over the years, the camp has grown in popularity. It now averages more than 200 campers a year.
In June, four sessions are held for children ages 5 to 18. Four more sessions are held in July for campers 18 and older. Each session costs $150 and lasts four days.

The camp has a large organic garden to teach campers “where their sustenance comes from,” Colby said.

“You haven’t lived till you’ve seen a 5-year-old dig his first potato,” she said with a grin. “He’s just like, ‘What is this?’”

Campers also feed livestock each morning.

“They realize the animals depend on them,” Colby said. “It’s profound. It brings them alive. It’s just a marvelous experience to watch them suddenly think something needs them.”

Tickets for Saturday’s fundraiser are available at the gate and at German American, Old National Bank, Hometown IGA and Holiday Foods.

Contact Tony Raap at traap@dcherald.com.

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