Camp Capella: A place of magic for kids

Posted Jan. 22, 2009, at 9:19 a.m.

Welcome to Camp CaPella. What the heck is that, you might ask. It is a camp experience for children and adults with disabilities located on Phillips Lake right behind the Lucerne Inn.

The youngsters who come to Camp CaPella find it difficult to attend other camps because of the nature of their disabilities.

Children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, developmental disabilities or autism, and those with medical problems that contribute to physical and developmental disabilities find their way to Camp CaPella, where we can take a wheel chair and roll it right into the lake. Everyone is accepted and participates regardless of disabilities.

Last summer was my first year as director of Camp CaPella. It was an education for me.

I’d like to tell you about just one 13-year-old boy. Shawn has cerebral palsy. He uses a wheelchair, has braces on both legs and uses crutches, which he prefers. And this is where he became my inspiration. He loved coming here and insisted on doing just about everything himself.

He’s an independent-minded squirt if there ever was one – and I mean that in every complimentary way possible. He would climb out of his wheelchair and crawl – literally -into the lake for his one of three daily swims.

“I can do it myself” was what we heard throughout the day.

Whenever I looked at whatever problems I thought I had, I’d think of Shawn crawling into the lake. He would swim to the float and every day, rain or shine, he’d sit on the float and roll into the water. One day he said, “Dana, do you know why I love to swim so much?”

“No,” I replied.

“Because when I am in the water, I can walk.”

Camp CaPella is one of those magical places where kids with disabilities are accepted regardless of their disabilities – where disabilities are just the way it is and just another one of life’s challenges. Here, they can be just kids – having a great time and making memories.

Camp CaPella gets no state or federal funding and operates solely on the good will of those who sponsor campers. Shawn is just one of the children who needs a sponsor.

Now is the time when Camp CaPella depends on individuals and businesses to make the donations that help campers make memories. That is quite a gift.

Read more about the children of Camp CaPella and their stories in the months to come.

Dana Mosher is executive director of Camp CaPella. For information, visit www.CampCaPella.org, call 843-5104 or write Camp CaPella, P.O. Box 552, Holden 04429.

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