A group of long-time friends gathered at the Lions Camp in Anacoco on Friday the 13th to make the archery range wheelchair friendlier.

This summer will be the camp’s 61st year providing activities for Louisiana boys and girls with qualifying special needs, diabetes and pulmonary disorders.

The first camping session on July 9, 1961 opened the camp which is located six miles north of Leesville on 180 acres of piney woodlands.

The archery range there has been around for at least 30 years but the the upgrade will make it more accomodating for campers and staff.

Pushing a wheelchair through the grass is not exactly a smooth-rolling task, making the trip to the archery range a bit arduous. That will no longer be an issue thanks to the work of Raymond Phillips, Vaughn Bourgeois, Ray Cecil III, John Favrot and Mark Phillips. These five men have all been volunteering at the Louisiana Lions Camp since they were boys themselves.

They reminisced about their time as kids working at the camp as counselors in training. Raymond recalls the smiles on campers’ faces being the most powerful aspect of his memories there.

His (and Mark’s) mother worked as a cook at the Lions Camp for many years. The guys all noted her delicious homemade biscuits.

Bourgeois was 14-years-old when his brother was originally scheduled to volunteer at the camp. He ended up not going, however, and at his mother’s suggestion, Bourgeois took his place volunteering at the camp.

What made him return the following year was when a camper named Donny asked if he would be back next summer.

“We did it for the kids then and still do it for the kids,” Bourgeois said.

Cecil, executive camp director, explained that the summer experience allows the campers to just be kids.

The team of volunteers, along with a couple of Boy Scouts (Zachary Phillips and Peter Obluda) will continue their work around the Lions Camp, pressure washing, painting and beautification in general until the campers arrive.