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Children get amped at Easter Seals camp

Camp Joy El hosts weeklong co-educational camp for children who have developmental disabilities

August 10, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Jordan Carnes tugs a rope that lifts counselor Courtney Young off the ground on a device dubbed the "flying squirrel" Wednesday at Easter Seals Camp Amp in Greencastle, Pa. Jordan and other campers and counselors donned harnesses and relied on the group to pull them high up in the air.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Thirteen-year-old Tim Parvin stood in the background Wednesday at the Easter Seals Camp Amp watching nervously as his fellow campers were hoisted 35 feet in the air.

Half a dozen campers worked together pulling the line on the "flying squirrel," to give another camper the ride of a lifetime.

However, Tim, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., doesn't like heights. So, it took a pep talk from a few friends before he mustered the courage to try the new adventure.

"I didn't want to go up, but I did. I feel happy," he said of his accomplishment.

Facing fears and trying new things are two of the benefits of the overnight, co-educational camp for children age 7 through 17 who have developmental disabilities.

The Easter Seals Camp Amp, held at Camp Joy El in Greencastle, began on Sunday and continues through Friday.

"This is our second year for the camp and first year in Franklin County," said Liz Bunting, Camp Amp director.

Bunting said the Easter Seals camp gives participants a chance to experience camping in a safe, secure environment with one counselor to every three campers.

"Camping is a great opportunity to work on socialization because you're around the same people for a whole week. It's a fantastic opportunity to foster independence, because it's really tough when you are dependent for certain needs," Bunting said.

"We'll help them when needed, but if they're capable we're going to make them do it. It's really good for them to get the opportunity to be with peers for a whole week and to learn how to be independent and have fun."

Activities during the weeklong camping adventure include arts and crafts, canoeing, miniature golf, group games, scavenger hunts and more.

"I like camp," said Jordan Carnes, 14, of Waynesboro, Pa.

He said his favorite things are swimming and the flying squirrel.

"I liked making friends with people my own age and building my social skills," Jordan said.

"I like the smores the best," said Sarah Bravo, 16, of Lancaster, Pa., who also liked swimming and meeting people.

"We (Easter Seals) have always had a wonderful recreation program in Central Pennsylvania, but we never really had that camp component — and we're getting back into it and apparently there is a huge need," said Matt Ernst, director of therapeutic recreation for Easter Seals Central Pennsylvania.

Ernst plans to expand the camp and grow camps throughout Central and Northern Pennsylvania.

"We want to continue coming back here, and we want to see more kids get involved," he said.

Ernst said corporate sponsors Manitowoc and Wal-Mart offset the cost of the approximately $15,000 to run the weeklong camp and help about 10 of the 25 campers pay their participation fee.

For more information, log onto eastersealscentralpa.org or call 717-741-3891.

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