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Think back to your favorite Christmas memory. You were likely a small child. You can Santa is placing gift boxes under Christmas treeprobably remember your excitement as the holiday quickly approached. The days leading up to Christmas Eve, you were on your best behavior (but had good reminders from your parents and teachers.) When December 24 finally arrived, you couldn’t wait to go to sleep that night. Your mom and dad likely helped you prepare for the evening with a fresh plate of cookies and a glass of milk. You brushed your teeth and quickly went to bed, but then spent most of the night watching the clock – just waiting for an appropriate time to wake up. Then on Christmas morning, you couldn’t believe your eyes as you found a Christmas tree full of presents replaced with an empty plate. You believed in the magic of Christmas.

Sadly, things change as we grow older. Our excitement was instead replaced with stress and a To-Do list a mile long, and the spirit fades. Fortunately, the magic does reappear as we have children of our own, but our roles change – from excited child to excited parent. We also spend Christmas Eve, making preparations and not getting much shuteye because we too are eager to watch our children thrilled be opening our gifts. Then quietly smiling when they ask, “How did Santa know this is exactly what I wanted?” As parents, we come to discover a new kind of magic – the magic of giving.

But as life continues on, the cycle continues. Our children grow up, and the spirit again slightly fades.

Luckily, as supporters of Lions Pride, we have a unique role that allows us to play Santa all year long. How, you might ask? By giving special children all around the state of Wisconsin the gift of experience. This year, over 150 children were given the opportunity to spend a week in the beautiful place known as the Wisconsin Lions Camp. During their week at camp, these kids have the chance for overnight camping, canoe and hiking trips, swimming, kayaking, paddle boating, archery, crafts, sports and more. All the while, they are also developing self-confidence, interdependence, social skills and outdoor recreational skills, at no cost to their families.

This particular gift may not be beautifully wrapped under a bright, full Christmas tree, but we know in our hearts that it’s a gift that keeps on giving all year long because a child’s week at camp allows them the resources, skills and experiences that will serve them long beyond their childhoods.

Of course, none of this would be possible without you, the help of our donors, the lifeblood of our organization. We never get tired of saying thank you for your ongoing support. Although our biological children may be grown, we look forward to playing the role of Santa for countless years to come. Thank you for helping us continue our mission to preserve, provide and protect Lions Camp and all other WLF statewide projects.

The Lions Pride Office will be closed the week of December 24, to celebrate Christmas with our families. We’d like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!