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Packers Road Trip: Lions Camp highlights final day of journey across Wisconsin

801 miles traveled over five-day community tour

Packers Road Trip visits Wisconsin Lions Camp
Packers Road Trip visits Wisconsin Lions Camp

The Road Trip's final day started off with a pleasant breakfast at the Wooden Chair restaurant in downtown Stevens Point. The players enjoyed passing out Packers decals and other green-and-gold trinkets. They also posed for photos with staff and other patrons before heading off to the day's stops.

The "Power of the Pack" was shared with camp counselors and staff during the first stop at the Wisconsin Lions Camp in Rosholt. The camp is dedicated to providing quality camp experiences for Wisconsin youth and adults with disabilities.

The camp team, which was in preparations to receive the week's campers that afternoon, was curious to hear from the players what they thought was important about teamwork.

"Communication is a key for any team," said Mike Neal. "It can be for anything – sports, business. Be honest about your communications, too. If you're not honest about what you need to accomplish, you cannot grow together. Also be accountable and own up to your mistakes. That builds trust, which is a key to a team."

Scott Wells, who has a family friend who works at a similar camp, commended staff for their dedicated work in ensuring campers with special needs have the opportunity to participate.

For a couple of counselors unfamiliar with the intricacies of football, James Starks demonstrated how to properly hold a pigskin.

"High and tight," he said, pinning the football against his chest.

Starks and Tramon Williams engaged a couple of the campers in a friendly game of two-on-two basketball and afterward, campers and players mingled and shared stories about camp and football.

Andrea Yenter, executive director of the camp, spoke with Mark Murphy of the recent challenges of finding appropriate levels of staffing for the summer. Like leaders of other organizations, she has had to get creative in her efforts and has found some success in connecting with colleges around the state to recruit students who are going into fields that are associated with the special needs of the campers, including endocrinology and pharmacology.

She also enjoyed seeing her staff happily interact with their visitors.

"After a long summer and some struggles with Covid, this is really something to help get them through the last three weeks of summer camp," she said.

A final surprise stop took place at Kwik Trip in Bonduel, where the group handed out gift cards and Packers paraphernalia to customers gassing up their cars and shopping in the store.

It was a serendipitous encounter for Packers fan Rhonda Peterson, who stopped at the convenience store as she was making the trek back home to Siren in western Wisconsin after participating in the Packers 5K at Lambeau Field.

"We've been following Road Trip all week long and watching the different stops," she explained. "When the bus pulled in, it was a dream come true. It was just fun to get a chance to see these players who I've watched for years."

The Packers Road Trip concluded tour across the state with a stop at The Waterford at Wisconsin Rapids for afternoon bingo, a visit with camp counselors and staff at the Wisconsin Lions Camp and a final surprise at Kwik Trip before returning to Green Bay.

As the group completed its 801-mile trek across the state, each of the members had the opportunity to reflect on the journey.

Neal: "I enjoyed it and to be 100% honest with you, I didn't know how to take it when they asked me to come because I haven't been on it before. But it was great. Having the alumni be in the community and being able to talk, to particularly the rehabilitation centers and the children and the veterans, it really makes you feel special. It's special to just have these people remember who you are.

"I enjoy reconnecting with teammates. That's the biggest thing when I left that I'd miss – the locker room. The games, you can remember those as you can watch those on TV, but the setting where you feel safer and you can let everything hang loose with the fellas, you can't get that anywhere. That's like being a part of a fraternity and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed meeting up with these players. You get to laugh about the things we experienced. It was special."

Starks: "I enjoyed it. It's good seeing all the guys. I look at it as everybody's family and it's just in a different environment. I enjoy just getting out here helping different groups and being with the guys.

"I was just saying to the others, that the memories we continue to make with the organization, it's kind of like family going back to people who you know, being around each other, laughing and enjoying ourselves. To me, that was the biggest thing."

Williams: "I enjoyed it. This is my first tour with the Packers…I've been trying to do it for some years now and I finally made it with my schedule, so it was fun. I got a chance to get on the bus with guys who I went to battle with, and we basically picked up where we left off. It is a great thing about having a bond with people. You don't have to talk every day, but when you get back together, you just pick right up where you left off.

"It was amazing. We got a chance to get around and make some stops. Old folks' home, veteran hospitals, and talk to some high school kids and inspire them in same type of way we were, like the next generation. It was a chance to talk to those guys and help them navigate through life, remembering when I was making some of the same decisions.

"It is amazing to do this with this organization. We talked about being community-owned, so it gives us an opportunity to be in the community and help raise money for organizations and foundations."

Moll: "It's just been a great week and to get to the side of the state that I've never been to before, meeting a bunch of people in different towns. I'm excited actually to come back with my family and visit again. I've been happy with everything that we've been able to do. Visiting some veterans at the vets' home to spending time with kids at the high schools and touring the bread facility at Kwik Trip.

The Packers Road Trip continued on Wednesday afternoon with visits to Rawhide Youth Services and the Wisconsin Veterans home.

"Every single thing that we've been able to do has been a great experience and there's nothing better than being able to brighten someone's day. That's a gift. Sharing some motivational moments that you can maybe make an impact within the kids. I've had a wonderful time and to be able to reconnect with some of these guys has been just a great experience and look forward to doing it again."

Spitz: "I think one of the reasons that the organization is so highly respected is this very reason: giving back to the community. It's important for all of us. It's just been a fabulous week and first and foremost, spending time with the guys that I've known for almost 20 years now, so it's special to get back together tell stories. But I think more importantly, it's great to go impact people's lives. Even though they may not know who we are, but they love the Packers so much that were willing to take time out of our day to visit with them. It's special and you can see in their faces. And now I get to go back home and go back to being a dad and husband.

"I really liked the trip to Hudson because I was able to talk to some high school offensive linemen. I remember those days and what it was like, and no one came and visited me. They asked you one or two pointers, and I kind of gave them my perspective on how to be successful.

"Another great part was getting to hang out with guys, just like we did in the locker room."

Wells: "Really enjoyed the trip. I think the fact that the Green Bay Packers do a trip like this is a direct reflection on how much they are involved with the community. I've always been impressed with the family atmosphere of this organization as a player, and as a former player I'm equally as impressed with how much they really embrace the fact that we're community-owned with the greatest fanbase in all of football, really all the sports. So to be able to go on a trip like this and interact with the community, be a part of giving back, whether it's financial donations, whether it's trying to inspire and motivate kids, it's huge and I'm honored to be asked to be a part of it.

"Tony (Fisher) and Cathy (Dworak) do a great job of picking where we stop and try to have the greatest impact with the limited amount of time that we have.

"I love the high school events and getting out there to Hudson was special because we were able to get down on the field. I had some centers come up to me and asked about coaching tips, which was great because that's the position I coach and a lot of kids don't have that opportunity to speak with someone who has competed at a high level.

"Stopping at Rawhide and learning the story of what they do really opened my eyes, because as a player I always knew about them but wasn't really sure what they did. Seeing it firsthand and interacting with the kids there and the staff was important. The veterans' hospital and the assisted living centers…every stop was something that was special to us."

Murphy: "I enjoyed it. It's been the first time in a few years since I've been on the tour because of the pandemic, so it was nice to get back on the road. It was a little different format than we had previous years, but I think it still was very positive.

"I really enjoy the interaction with the fans and it's fun to catch up again with some of our former players.

"The Hudson stop was fun. We are so close to Minneapolis, but it's amazing that there are so many Packers fans. The pigskin picnic at the high school raised a lot of money.

"I always enjoy the school stops. Now that we're in the summer, it's more for kids who are in summer school or training for fall sports, but it is a lot of fun to see students getting ready for sports and speak about what's important for achieving success."

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