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Bob Shipley, a heating and air-conditioning contractor from Atlanta, a good friend of the Leonardtown Lions Club president, King Lion George Kirby, visited Lions Camp Merrick this past summer. He went along on a follow-up visit with the same group of Leonardtown Lions that had volunteered last spring to help clean up the camp and prepare it for the summer.

During the visit, Shipley learned that three of the camp’s cabins had neither heat nor air-conditioning. As the day wore on, he became increasingly aware of how important this camp is to certain children’s groups. That week the camp was housing children with Type I diabetes, but each year it also supports kids that are blind or deaf. Shipley was so impressed with the quality of the program and the inspired responses made by the young campers and staff personnel to his questions that he decided to donate three heat-air systems to increase the camper capacity of the camp.

The equipment and the installers arrived in early November from Atlanta and the installation was completed over a 24-hour period.

A diabetic himself, Shipley said that he had witnessed firsthand the “substantial difference” the week-long camping experience had made on the campers with whom he spoke. He stated that the staff and counselors were “most sensitive” and “dedicated” to the needs of the campers.

The campers spoke candidly about their past and present experiences at the camp, saying that they “felt free to relax and enjoy their week at camp, especially since the adult supervisors were there to make all their dietary decisions.” One camper went on to say that he hoped someday to become a counselor or staff member himself at the camp, so that he could help other campers enjoy their week as much as he had enjoyed his time at Camp Merrick.

For more information about Lions Camp Merrick, contact King Lion George Kirby at 301-475-3188 or Heidi Fick at or 301-870-5858.