|Rising sophomore volunteers at camp for disabled children
RELEASED: Aug. 5, 2004
DANVILLE, KYFor the past three summers, Sam Brown has been a volunteer camp counselor at the Muscular Dystrophy Association's summer camp for children at Camp Courageous in Monticello, Iowa. The camp is for those between the ages of 6 and 21 who have muscular dystrophy or other neuromuscular diseases.
Brown, a Centre rising sophomore from Des Moines, says she heard about the camp in high school and was interested in volunteering. Since then, she's looked forward to the opportunity to help out each year.
"I had to go through quite a long application process to participate, but it's been worth it," she says. "The program is only for a week, but it's an awesome week. The campers really look forward to this time for their entire year, and the same goes for me. It's so amazing that I've become a part of it."
Each camper is paired with a counselor and receives one-on-one assistance. Along with the traditional outdoor activities and camp sing-alongs, the campers also participate in specialized group activities. They're put into groups based on age and level of mobility.
For Brown, volunteering at Camp Courageous has been an emotional experience.
"I've grown close to many of the campers and I've seen them grow up over the past three summers, which is great," she says. "But it's also difficult to watch the progress of the disease. Many who were walking my first summer are now in wheelchairs and need much more assistance. These are wonderful kids who are often not able to do things that most of us take for granted. That's the biggest thing that I'm able to take from the camp. It really puts life in perspective."
But Brown is quick to point out that these are still children who love having fun.
"My camper this year, Drew, actually put a pie in my face during the camp talent show. It was hilarious. The campers also like to soak us with water guns. We make sure they have the time of their lives."
"I find myself thinking that I want to do more for people with this disease," she says. "I don't feel like I'm doing enough to help, but it's a start. I care about these kids, and I'm grateful for the awesome memories they've given me."
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