NEAR FARMINGTON, MO. (KPLR) – 23-year old Private first class, Christopher Neal White was killed in Iraq in 2006 while serving with the U.S. Marines. He was an avid outdoorsman and loved to hunt and fish.
His parents, Will and Galia White wanted to make sure his memory lived on by helping others. Specifically, wounded veterans. So, they started Camp Hope. It’s located on 250 wooded acres outside of Farmington, Missouri.
The Whites used their son’s military death benefit to buy the property now known as Chris Neal Farm. Camp Hope was the name of an outpost where Chris had spent time. Will thought that was a good name for their camp, and adds that Hope stands for “helping other people excel.” And that’s what Camp Hope does.
Several times a year, groups of wounded veterans visit the camp, all expenses paid, to enjoy the great outdoors just like Chris did. They hunt turkey or deer, hike, fish, go 4-wheeling or just enjoy the camaraderie of others who have had their “boots in the same dirt.”
The vets tell me it helps to be around others who have also struggled with putting lives back together that have been shattered by war. It helps them open up they say and start to be themselves again. Will says Mother Nature helps a lot in the healing, allowing the wounded warriors to get outside, do things and forget a lot of their worries. He says it helps them feel independent, build back their self-esteem and help them heal. One soldier, who suffered severe injuries and lost a leg in an explosion in Iraq, told me the experience saved his life. He and others come back every year to help those struggling to cope.
The Whites say they’ll never completely heal from the loss of their son, but helping others helps them. Their payday as Will puts it, is when a mother or father or wife calls and says thanks for making a difference in their loved one’s life.
Camp Hope is all volunteer. No salaries. Everything is funded by private and corporate donations. If you’d like more information on Camp Hope or would like to donate, we’ve included the Camp’s mailing address and a link to its website.
The mailing address for Camp Hope is:
P.O. Box 52
Farmington, MO 63640
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