The History of Camp Victory, written by Al Lamovec
In the 1950s and ’60s, upper Midwest farm boys were plentiful and easy to find. You knew them by their crew cuts and the local small-town high school athletic teams. Most of us had no idea we were almost all from low-income family farms. We assumed all boys had one pair of shoes for the farm work, barn chores, church, and school. Our 25 cents weekly allowance bought us a movie, popcorn, and “pop” in town on Friday nights. Our sacred possessions were our single shot 22’s and shotguns and our cane poles. Dad’s wooded back 40, the neighbor’s 80, the secret duck ponds, and the river were our turf. Life was good!
Little did we know that Uncle Sam would soon invite us to Vietnam. Many did not return, or they returned with disabilities or emotional issues. The term “lottery” then involved more “chance” than today’s players might bargain for.
Fast forward to Dessert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Again, we find many U.S. service volunteers who did not return or brought back “Purple Hearts” and again some disabilities and emotional issues. Several of those returning Veterans are now serving as Camp Victory volunteers and advisors with many Vietnam Veterans.
This farm boy was fortunate enough to attend college and then become a U.S. Marine. I have been blessed with several of the ’40s and ’80s from my farm boy days. That land has now been consolidated into the 295-acre tract we call Camp Victory. I wrote one particular key landowner a letter for about 20 years asking him to sell me his land. He never replied. Kay and I prayed over our 2007 letter, and he called inquiring, “Do you still want my land?” By buying other small parcels, I put it all into one piece. We can now pass on these lands to assist our current military Veterans and their families. These rural lands are uniquely fitted to provide more “boyhood balm” with activities like camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, discovering nature, solitude, and companionship. Life is still good! Camp Victory restores the kid in us all—campers and counselors alike. Camp Victory proves “it is better to give than to receive.”
We practice our diversity freely and have received more from our Veterans going to foreign lands than we could ever repay or ever fully comprehend their sacrifice for us.
Camp Victory is designed to facilitate the healing process using God’s creation as our doctor, nurse, and therapist. Each Memorial Day, we dutifully memorialize the flags and white crosses. May those who freely gave their lives inspire us to now care for the wounded who returned and not forget those who gave all.
We acknowledge that the VA system is structured to administer to our Veterans’ needs and genuinely tries to facilitate emotional healing. In Wisconsin, we currently have five Veteran Centers staffed by certified PTSD Therapists. These therapists are a vital component to using Camp Victory to augment their PTSD healing process with Veterans.
Henry Lamovec, Sr. “Dad” – Dad insisted all four of us kids attend college. Dad, already in his 80’s, also helped build and maintain roads for wheelchairs to benefit people with disabilities. Thank you!
Dale Petkovsek. Local disabled “Farm Boy”, “Giver” and entrepreneur. My inspiration. Founded Rock Creek Disabled Outdoors. Dale could make $5 out of 50¢.