Texas Elks Children Services gears up for summer camp

Special grant program helps those in need


The Texas Elks Lodge is currently gearing up for their summer camp program for children who are in need. The summer camp will start June 12. Applications are mostly closed, but there are a few spots left for girls only. 

“Our goal is to let kids come to camp and just have fun,” Executive Director of Texas Elk camp, Loretta Shirley, said. “We try to downplay whatever their issue is as much as possible and lift them up and help them grow.”

Needy children who are up to 21 years of age, if they’re still enrolled in school and are a resident of Texas, are also eligible for a special grant which will assist their living situation.

What’s covered in these grant parameters can include restoring body part functions such as hearing aid or special braces for the spine, mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, and even replacing missing body parts such as limbs or eyes.

“Sometimes the equipment we purchase (for these grants) makes a huge difference in their lives,” Shirley said. “It can be something as simple as a cranial helmet that’s a thousand dollars or something as complex as fully loaded, fully equipped vans with wheelchair conversions.”

Children anywhere within the area of Gonzales can apply to this grant through the Elks lodge here. If the child in need is outside of the area, the Gonzales Elks Lodge will transfer it to another location. There are 59 Elks Lodges in the state of Texas.

Every member of the Elks Lodge contributes as a member to funding the special needs grant program. The Elks Lodge also takes donations in other various ways.  

“We have these little red piggy (banks) spread across town,” Shirley said. “Anywhere you see those piggy banks, we go and collect them and pick them up and that’s money that goes to the special camp program.”

The Texas Elks summer camp for the needy comes two years after doing virtual camp during the pandemic. The last week of summer camp in 2021 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Last summer, there were five sessions planned and this summer there will be seven.

“Virtual camp was as much work as real camp,” Shirley said. “We still had a small summer staff but we did live videos like twice a day, we sent the art and craft supplies to the campers, and we did an actual Amazing Race challenge around town.”

The Elks two primary goals are helping veterans and helping children in special needs to improve their lives. Both the summer camp and the special grant program are two parts of the Texas Elks Children Services organization.