Pi Kappa Phi members Jabari Allen (left) from Truman State University and Doug Bona from Florida State University participate in the alternative spring break trip.

Pi Kappa Phi members Jabari Allen (left) from Truman State University and Doug Bona from Florida State University participate in a previous alternative spring break trip.
Image Credit: Leslie Conrad

CLEMSON — Members of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity will trade swimming trunks and beach sand for tool belts and South Carolina mud during their spring breaks this year. A group of 35 members of the fraternity from across the nation will spend the week of March 5 to 10 at the Clemson Outdoor Lab as part of the Ability Experience’s Ability Camp.

The camp is a week-long event dedicated to the construction of accessible camp structures like nature trails, ramps and playgrounds for children with disabilities. Participants also engage in daily camp activities that allow them to develop friendships with campers and build awareness for people with disabilities. Members of the Clemson University Pi Kappa Phi chapter will aid the Outdoor Lab staff with site preparation during the weeks leading up to March 5 in addition to their duties during the week. (Clemson’s spring break will be later, March 14-18.)

“It is great to see such a large group of our students act so selflessly during their time away from class,” said Leslie Conrad, director of the Clemson Outdoor Lab. “There are obvious benefits that these young men will get out of the experience, but they can be proud of the lasting impact these children will enjoy for years to come.”

According to the Ability Experience, each Ability Camp receives a $7,500 grant to be used for materials while the volunteer fraternity men donate their time to complete the projects at camp.

This year’s building plans for the Outdoor Lab include an accessible waterfront shed, sailing dock, new elements for the venture course and more. Conrad said each project will benefit the 700-plus campers who attend the camps throughout the year.

“The Clemson Outdoor Lab works to continually improve its facility,” Conrad said, “but additions like these that will be started and finished in just one week will provide an immediate benefit for our campers.”

The Clemson Outdoor Lab leads a number of residential camps for children, youth and adults, and many are designed specifically for those with disabilities. To learn more about the Clemson Outdoor Lab and the programs it offers, visit Clemson.edu/outdoorlab.

Since its inception, the Ability Experience and Pi Kappa Phi have raised nearly $20 million on behalf of people with disabilities. For more information about Ability Experience programs, please visit abilityexperience.org.