Charles W. Becker, 76BA, has devoted his professional life to working with people with disabilities, transforming a fledgling program into a state-of-the art camp that offers courage and inspiration to more than 6,500 people each year.
As the executive director of Camp Courageous, a nonprofit organization that provides year-round respite services for children and adults with special needs, Becker has been tireless in his efforts to connect with others and serve his community.
Becker can trace his community involvement back to his high school days in Dubuque, Iowa, where he became the first male page in Dubuque County to serve in the Iowa Legislature. He went on to attend the University of Iowa, working three jobs and finishing a bachelor's degree in 1976 after only three years.
Becker left for England to teach at Exeter College and Priory High School, and then returned to his home state to teach government for three years at Central Lee High School in Argyle, Iowa. In 1980, at the age of 25, he accepted a position as the executive director of the recently founded Camp Courageous.
When Becker was hired, Camp Courageous served a few hundred campers in a facility comprised of five buildings. Today—thanks to his leadership and tireless fundraising—the camp has a $3 million budget funded primarily by donors, and it attracts more than 6,500 campers annually. Now spreading over 200 acres of land, the camp boasts 25 facilities, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool, zip lines, a climbing wall, a miniature train, and a farm with animals.
Despite long hours working to support Camp Courageous, Becker still finds time to fulfill numerous other civic duties. He is president of the board of trustees for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association in West Branch, Iowa, and president of the board for the Jones Regional Medical Center—where he co-chaired a capital campaign to build a much-needed hospital. He serves on the National Board of Presidential Libraries, the Monticello School Foundation, the Monticello Airport Board, and the Jones Regional Medical Center Foundation Board, has been a member of the former Monticello State Bank board of directors and the Monticello Development Board, and helped establish the Iowa Brain Injury Association. He also has provided consistent and generous support to the University of Iowa for more than 40 years.
As a result of such dedication, Becker has garnered many honors, including the Iowa Jaycees Outstanding Young Iowan Award, the Monticello Community Pride Award, the first Iowa State Fair "Iowan of the Day" award, and the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival Hero and parade grand marshall distinctions.
Says Becker's friend Lance Greco, "Charlie Becker could have gone on to be CEO of almost any organization imaginable. Fortunately for the campers and their families, whose lives are so dramatically impacted by Camp Courageous, he chose a little place in the woods in Monticello, Iowa."
Through his devotion, vision, and hands-on approach, Charles W. Becker has spent a lifetime modeling the Camp Courageous motto: "We are more alike than we are different."
Becker is a member of the UI Alumni Association's Old Capitol Club and the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.