My dream is to inspire kids to achieve what they want out of life.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Stephen visually is that he is in a wheelchair, because Stephen J. Wampler has Cerebral Palsy (CP). Then you’ll get to know Stephen as a person and you’ll see how little CP defines him. Over the years he has learned not to only live with his disability, but to thrive in life with his condition. He wants to ensure that others with physical disabilities have the same opportunity as he has had so they can live a fulfilling life.
Steve Wampler discovered the benefits of the great outdoors as a child. Coming to understand that it was an important stepping stone in his life, he attended a wilderness summer camp for children with disabilities, returning every summer between the ages of 9 and 18. He went on to graduate from college, and with his wife, Elizabeth, have two children, Charlotte and Joseph. Having been forever changed by his own experiences at camp, he understood that these benefits were not unique to him. Steve’s dream was “to be able to own his own camp”. In 2002, Steve and Elizabeth founded The Stephen J. Wampler Foundation, and “Camp Wamp” was opened in 2004. With the wilderness as the backdrop, kids enjoy the fun and camaraderie of camp life. With Steve as their inspiration, their experiences push each one to discover how capable they really are.
The journey began with the Wamplers offering summer camp experiences at a leased property in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California. Upon the permanent closure of that location in 2016, it was time to find a forever home. Steve had a list of 12 “must-have” features that he was looking for, including a lake, a commercial kitchen, running water, electricity, and more. The hunt was on.
With gratitude, Steve, Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Joseph Wampler. David, Weezie, Rhett & Chelsey, and Caleb Reese
The Reese and Wampler family story begins…
By luck, at the grand opening of the Ability 360 Sports and Fitness Center for disabled people in Phoenix, AZ, in 2012, a magical introduction was made between Steve and Elizabeth Wampler and David and Weezie Reese. After knowing each other for just a short time, the families, collectively, set out to find a suitable piece of land for the permanent home for Camp Wamp. By 2017, after several failed endeavors, the “perfect” camp became available, to quote Stephen Wampler. After hard-fought negotiations, the Reese Family Foundation purchased, what was, then, Camp Deer Lake in Soda Springs, CA, from the Girl Scouts of Northern California. Much work, maintenance, and improvements were to follow in the subsequent five years on the 128-acre property, during which the camp reopened.
In the Spring of 2022, the property was donated by the David E. Reese Family Foundation to the Stephen J. Wampler Foundation, to be, forever, utilized as a summer camp for disabled children. “Camp Wamp lives forever” due to the love and friendship of two families that care greatly for each other and the kids that Camp Wamp serves.
“Failure is not an option”
Wampler’s Ascent is a documentary about Stephen Wampler and his amazing accomplishment of being the first person with Cerebral Palsy to climb El Capitan mountain. As a demonstration of the mission of the foundation and an opportunity to bring international awareness in sending children with disabilities to a similar summer camp Stephen attended when he was an adolescent. The Wampler’s documented, “Wampler’s Ascent” and his heroic climb. The film has received national and international acclaim with 35 laurel leaves and 20 film festival awards to date