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Jackson Co is now the home of Camp Hero Kentucky, a retreat type healing place for wounded veterans and first responders. This property will be used several times a year to bring in wounded heroes and sometimes children of these heroes to do some outdoor therapy in the form of hunting, fishing, hiking, caving etc. Recently a group of children from Florida came up for a weekend of Kentucky hospitality while learning things about themselves and the great outdoors. If you would like more information about Camp Hero, either as a volunteer, sponsor, encourager please contact them on Facebook at Camp Hero Kentucky, Campheroky.org or contact Jackson Co Tourism at visitjacksoncountyky@gmail.com. There will be "working" days in the spring to build a firepit, trail maintenance, improving camp sites etc. If a church or civic group would be interested in providing a meal over one of these weekends, please let us know.

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The below article has been provided by the owner/director of Camp Hero, Rocco Besednjak. He describes more about his vision and the goals for Camp Hero as well as talking about the recent hunt weekend. Thanks also to local land owners Curtis Angel and Harry Nicholson for allowing the children to hunt on their property along with the Camp Hero property.

Rocco smiles, as he watches the kids unload from the back of the pickup trucks, as they return to their camping location in Viney Bottom. The kids are cold, wet, and muddy, yet every one of them is smiling and laughing. They had just finished exploring Misty Cave, and hiking through South Fork Station Camp Creek, to get there and back. This was the first of hopefully many events that Rocco, and his wife Lauren, will be hosting at their property, which they have named Camp Hero.

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Rocco and Lauren Besednjak are lifelong public servants. Lauren is currently a Registered Nurse, and has been living her dream of working with children for over 15 years. Rocco spent over 4 years in the US Navy, before he was medically retired due to becoming disabled. Not wanting to stop serving, Rocco served as a police officer, for over seven years, before he was forced to retire, due to spinal injuries after being intentionally dragged and ran over by a wanted felon. However, Rocco’s drive to continue serving, allowed him to convince Lauren to acquire a beautiful piece of property in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Appropriately named Camp Hero, Rocco wanted to be able to provide retreats, hunting trips, camping trips, and outdoor experiences for other wounded veterans and first responders. During his early stages of being treated for service-connected PTSD, Depression and Anxiety (that were tied to his physical injuries) Rocco was able to find the organization, Kentucky Wounded Heroes (KWH), which also provides outdoor experiences for wounded veterans and first responders. Through experiences with KWH, Rocco was able to fully understand the therapeutic benefits of being outdoors, in nature, and being around like-minded people. Rocco wanted the non-profit to be able to continue on this idea, and provide a location to be able to help other wounded heroes heal, and grow our heroes of the future.

Camp Hero will provide 3-4 day getaways for wounded veterans and first responders, to allow them to be able to enjoy the tranquility of the Appalachian Mountain outdoors, while being able to talk and fellowship with other wounded heroes. All lodging and food will be provided from the non-profit, through donations. The uniqueness of Camp Hero allows heroes to hike, explore caves, wade creeks, ride ATVs, enjoy watching the abundance of wildlife, sit around a campfire, or even do some hunting (season permitting). Camp Hero will also be having events for children, teaching outdoor skills, and mentoring them, so they can become the heroes of the future.

Rocco decided that first event would be a Youth Deer Hunt and Outdoor Adventure, which was a collaboration with the Non-Profit Organization “10-CAN, Inc” and its founder Matthew Burke. Like Rocco, Matthew is also a disabled military vet, who still holds a passion of service in his heart, which is why he started 10-CAN, Inc. 10-CAN is based out of Florida, with other states soon setting up their own chapters. One of the attendees from this previous weekend’s event came from Pennsylvania, where he will be starting a 10-CAN chapter. Like Camp Hero, 10-CAN also serves first responders, veterans, and children, but also has several family-based events, with a Christian foundation. (CAN stands for Christian Adventure Network).

This last weekend was a success, even with the wet weather. Approximately 25 people got to spend time together, fellowship, and learn and heal from each other. Children got to learn survival skills, deer hunt (with a coyote being harvested), and also got to do some cave exploring. However, the most overwhelming comment, from everyone, was how they enjoyed being in the natural beauty of what Jackson County had to offer. From the highest rock cliffs, to the deepest and darkest caves, there is a peace and tranquility out there, that Rocco knew that he had to share with others. Rocco agrees that Jackson County is a special place, and is proud to call it home, of his dream that he calls Camp Hero.

If you would like more information on how you can help, participate, or donate to Camp Hero, or 10-CAN, please see their websites below, or look for them on Facebook.

CampHeroKY.org

10CANOutdoors.com

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