Camp CaPella welcomes overnight campers

Posted June 27, 2011, at 10:01 p.m.

DEDHAM, Maine — For the first time, half of the kids at the summer camp session at Camp CaPella this week are overnight campers, as lodge and bunkhouse facilities have been upgraded and weatherized.

“Providing overnight camp capabilities is a huge step forward for us,” said Dana Mosher, executive director of Camp CaPella, which provides recreational experiences for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. “Now parents from farther away can bring their child to overnight camp without having to drop off and pick up their child every day. This will extend the reach of Camp CaPella to families all across Maine and beyond.”

There are other new additions to the resources of Camp CaPella, as well. Two pontoon boats have been provided by Peggy and Steve LaVerdiere, and under a Ronald McDonald House Charities grant, a brand new modular arts and crafts center was just flown in and put in place.

Monday morning was a special day with Maine’s NASCAR professional stock car driver Travis Dunbar visiting Camp CaPella and showing his car to the campers. “I have been racing for autism awareness,” said Dunbar, “and I’m happy to help bring awareness to Camp CaPella and the good work they do.”

“Camp CaPella is still a day camp, but now you can see that we also operate overnight camp sessions,” said Dana Mosher.

Handicapped-accessible facilities enable campers to enjoy activities such as swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, exercise, arts and crafts, interaction, and learning experiences in a safe and extraordinary environment.

With a history going back to 1960, closed for two years then reopened for the summer of 2008, Camp CaPella offers a handicapped-accessible lakefront camp experience for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities, Mosher said.

The camp is located on Phillips Lake in Dedham, or Lucerne-in-Maine, 12 miles from Bangor, 13 miles from Ellsworth. The lakefront area is flat and low, gently sloping down to the sandy beach and the water’s edge, relatively easy for campers in wheelchairs and with other ambulatory devices to maneuver. Facilities include a newly renovated lodge, a bunkhouse, a large bathhouse with individual showers and bathrooms, a ramp down to the water and boating area, and various other equipment to enable the physically handicapped to participate.

The stories and memories of Camp CaPella are living legend, but now it’s a new day. After 45 years of operations under United Cerebral Palsy of Maine, Camp CaPella is operating as its own independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Current plans include further renovation and expansion to year-round resources.

Camp CaPella provides a safe haven to individuals with disabilities, a summer camp by the lake where they can learn to utilize their own abilities, accept greater willingness to participate in group activities, enhance their self-awareness and potential, and just have fun for a while, Mosher said. Camp CaPella is about campers discovering and appreciating the abilities they have while living with their disabilities.

In order to provide necessary support for campers with handicaps and disabilities, the ratio of counselors to campers is one counselor for every two campers. Additional assistance and support is also provided by volunteers, long fulfilling a vital component of all the resources needed to sustain the services of Camp CaPella. The camp is an ideal training ground for those looking to or working in related professions or for those simply seeking a helpful and rewarding life experience for its own sake.

The full cost for a week’s participation at Camp CaPella is $1,250. For those unable to afford this cost, the Camp CaPella Campership Program has been established to provide eligible campers with up to $1,000 in funding, asking a $250 co-pay from parents or whatever they may be able to afford. No campers or families have ever been turned away due to financial problems.

Camp application, camper assessment form, physician’s form, parent-guardian release form, funding and related information can be found on the Camp CaPella website, http://www.campcapella.org or by calling 843-5104.

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