Our History

Camp Dogwood: A Rich Legacy of Compassionate Service

Established in 1967, Camp Dogwood, situated on the shores of Lake Norman in Catawba County, stands as a unique and cherished initiative. Owned and operated by the North Carolina Lions Foundation, it holds the distinction of being the sole camp of its kind in the state.

The roots of Camp Dogwood trace back to 1959 when the North Carolina Association of Workers for the Blind, primarily comprised of State School for the Blind alumni, formed a committee to study the needs of the blind in North Carolina. The committee, including three Lions—William Joyce, Ben Eason, and C. Coleman Cates, Jr., all blind themselves—envisioned a camp project closely aligned with Lionism’s objectives.

In 1964, at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Lions Association of the Blind, Lion Cates presented the Camp Dogwood Project, garnering support and sponsorship from the Association. The first structure, the “Lodge,” emerged in 1968, serving as the sole building during the inaugural camp year.

From those humble beginnings, Camp Dogwood has evolved into a sophisticated retreat center with hotel-style guestrooms, meeting facilities, and modern amenities, all set against the backdrop of a picturesque natural setting. Notably, the camp’s development and sustenance have been solely reliant on the North Carolina Lions, with no federal or state funding involved. Individual clubs and private donors have been instrumental in supporting this exceptional endeavor.

The vision for Camp Dogwood has always been forward-looking, driven by a commitment to improving the lives of the blind. Constructed and sustained through the collaborative efforts of Lions across the state, the camp epitomizes the essence of Lionism—transforming lives through selfless service.

As we reflect on our rich history, we eagerly anticipate an equally remarkable future, guided by imagination, purpose, and an unwavering dedication to the fundamental principles that define Camp Dogwood.