An eMagazine about wheelchair-accessible events, sports & locations in Arizona

2009 Spinal Cord Injury Association’s 4th Annual Retreat


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[ed note: Don Price (at left in photo above) works at ABIL and graciously agreed to provide a write up for this year’s retreat.  I visited him for one afternoon and really enjoyed the fishing trip, the cool weather and the friendly atmosphere. Thanks Don!]

The 4th annual Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association Retreat took place at Whispering Hope Ranch, near Christopher Creek, AZ, August 13th – 16th, 2009.  Approximately 40 campers, with various levels of spinal cord injuries, along with caregivers, family members and volunteers, spent three fun-filled days recreating and relaxing amongst the beautiful Ponderosa Pines that thrive near the Mogollon Rim.

Participants stay in any of the 10 dorm-style cabins.  Each cabin—named after birds, such as Flicker Flat and Cardinal Casa– sleeps up to 12 people and features accessible bathrooms, roll-in showers, electricity and heat.  The overall feel of the dorms is rustic, but this is a camp and the “roughing it” aspect of the sleeping arrangement adds to the overall experience.  The camp’s walkways—including a nature trail through the woods–are paved for easy wheelchair access.  However, cabins are set on the side of the hill, so manual chair users will find themselves getting a good workout from the daily pushes up and down. It is plenty common for those in manual chairs to hitch a ride on the back of someone’s electric chair.

Throughout the stay participants get to choose from a wide variety of activities including:  horseback riding, fishing, bocce ball, crafts, animal interaction, Frisbee golf, basketball, tom-car rides, beading, volleyball, discussion groups and massage.  In this way each camper can tailor their retreat experience to their own personal interests and abilities.  Additionally, each night features an all-camp activity.  The first night there’s a sing-along around a campfire.  Evening number two features a casino night, and the final night is highlighted by live music and dancing.

Whispering Hope Ranch is a beautiful camp, just below the red rocks and trout-filled lakes of the Colorado Plateau.  The ranch takes in animals with special needs and gives them the care and attention that most of these animals were not receiving elsewhere.  Maybe it’s the animals, the peacefulness of the location or the amazing staff at this ranch, but something “magical” always seems to happen at the retreats that take place here.  If you’ve never been to the AZSCIA Retreat I suggest you give it a try.

Following a demonstration, campers got to try their hand at fencing.

Following a demonstration, campers got to try their hand at fencing.

All-Terrain vehicles provided tours for the campers to explore the wilderness.

All-Terrain vehicles provided tours for the campers to explore the wilderness.

At 85 degrees, the retreat is a welcome escape from the August heat down in Phoenix.

At 85 degrees, the retreat is a welcome escape from the August heat down in Phoenix.

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Its quite common for the electric chairs to taxi those in manual chairs up the inclines.

Its quite common for the electric chairs to taxi those in manual chairs up the inclines.

Don Price rarely misses an excuse to go fishing. Here Don demonstrates his well-refined quad casting skills.

Don Price rarely misses an excuse to go fishing. Here Don demonstrates his well-refined quad casting skills.

Handbikes allow campers who normally get about in a wheelchair to better explore both on and offroad trails.

Handbikes allow campers who normally get about in a wheelchair to better explore both on and offroad trails.

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3 Responses »

  1. Well, now after reading about the retreat and seeing Loren’s great photos, I’ve got a bad case of ‘shoulda-woulda-coulda’. I shoulda gone on the retreat, and dang-it, I woulda if I coulda. So, count me in for next year! I’m sure there’s some great bird-watching opportunities at Whispering Hope Ranch.

  2. Birds . . . . . Bees . . . . . . and even a few brews. The retreats something for everyone. Saddle up the powerchair, hitch up the pooch and c’mon up next year.

  3. I went to the retreat last year for the first time… AMAZING experience! Completely adapted, accessible, and full of activities. I went horseback riding, played lots of sports, went off-roading… I’d recommend to everyone that they go if they can. You’ll love it!

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Accessing Arizona is primarily designed for people who are looking for wheelchair accessible events, locations and activities. If you have paralysis (paraplegic or quadriplegic), Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, or if you are an amputee, Accessing Arizona has information about an active lifestyle.
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