Madison Rotarians Visit Rotary Summer CampAug 27th, 2013 | By Admin | Category: Community News
By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Summer camp is probably the quintessential experience for many children, and the stuff of fond memories for many adults…the swimming, the horseback riding, the nature trails, the camp outs, the dancing the arts and crafts, and the friendships formed that sometimes last a lifetime…all of these and many more make the summer camp experience practically a rite of passage for many. The Rotary Club recognizes the importance of this experience and the many and sundry ways it can enrich a child’s life, and through the Rotary Youth Camp Program, works to make this same wonderful experience accessible to children, ages 7-22, with mental or physical challenges – children who might not otherwise be able to attend a summer camp due to the severity of their disabilities. Rotary Youth Camp is a summer camp developed especially for special needs children, bringing a range of camp activities within their reach; and one unique feature of this program is that it allows campers who show the aptitude to be trained as counselors themselves and once they are old enough, help other special needs young people like themselves. This summer, North Florida’s Rotary Youth Camp moved to a new location: the Wallwood Boy Scout Camp on Lake Talquin near Tallahassee, and a few Rotarians from Madison recently spent a Sunday afternoon making the trek to Tallahassee to spend s few hours with the staff and campers, and serve up a hot dog supper with all the trimmings. While they were there, they spent some time with the children and met one very extraordinary counselor, Celine. Now 19 years old, Celine has been attending the Rotary Youth Camp for six years, and this summer, she was promoted to camp counselor. Her mother speaks warmly about what the Rotary Youth Camp Program has done for her daughter, building up her confidence, bringing her out of her shell and helping her see what she could learn and do. Shortly after their return from that Sunday afternoon trip, several Madison Rotarians spoke to the rest of the club about what they had seen and experienced. “It’s refreshing to see young people working as counselors, taking care of all those special needs children just like parents,” said Jennifer Johnson. “It’s amazing how blessed we are.” “I was blessed,” Pete Bucher agreed. “I’m thankful that I made the time to go. It’s great to see young people that Rotary is helping. It was an eye-opener…and it made me want to work hard and try to do more.” “Seeing those kids…we just don’t know how blessed we are,” said Wayne Conger, President of the Madison Rotary Club. “Those kids, in spite of severe handicaps, were uplifting.” Like several of the others who made the trip, Conger also spoke of the camaraderie and fellowship as well as the blessing of being together with friends and doing something worthwhile for others. “I would urge that all of us (Rotarians) get more involved in what we do,” he said.