Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 21, 2013

Area MDA Summer Camp seeking volunteers

Martinsville
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) of Central Indiana is currently accepting applications for volunteer counselors to its yearly MDA Summer Camp, to be held June 8 to June 14.

According to Ashley Smith, health care services coordinator for the MDA of Central Indiana and local camp director, the yearly camp is held at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, located at 5040 Indiana 67.

“We hold these camps throughout the country every year,” Smith explained. “Our district serves all of Central Indiana, up through Lafayette. Our campers come from all over Central and Southern Indiana. We anticipate 85 campers this year, and will therefore need 85 volunteer counselors.”

Kids who attend the camp range in age from 6 to 17 and suffer from one of the 43 different types of neuromuscular diseases in which the MDA concentrates, Smith added.

“Our campers participate in a full range of outdoor activities,” she said, “including: Fishing, boating, swimming, arts-and-crafts, archery and ‘adaptive sports.’”

As an example of adaptive sports, the coordinator mentioned “power wheelchair soccer.”

In addition to the outdoor activities, the week-long therapeutic camp also includes a number of “longstanding traditional camp activities,” Smith said. Those activities include: Casino night, karaoke night, a talent show, movie night and two campfire nights, one on opening night and another on closing night.

“We also hold opening night and closing night dances,” Smith added.

She characterized the volunteer counselor’s job as a “24/7” endeavor, with volunteers earning 145 service hours.

Volunteers spend those hours paired up, one-to-one with a camper. Each counselor’s job, Smith explained, is to be the camper’s buddy, to provide encouragement to try all the activities, and to help with any physical, care-giving-related needs. Such needs might include: pushing the camper’s wheelchair, lifting and transferring the camper from the wheelchair, feeding, bathing, and dressing.

“On average, roughly 50 percent of campers each year require a wheelchair,” Smith explained.

She added that the physical needs of the campers vary widely, depending on the camper’s age, and the specific neuromuscular affliction and disease-stage.

“All these diseases affect everyone differently,” the coordinator added, “so the abilities of our campers vary wildly.” As such, although many volunteers will find the jobs physically taxing, others might be required only to provide encouragement and friendship to their camper, and to remind the camper to take breaks and drink plenty of water.

To apply to be a volunteer counselor for the MDA of Central Indiana Summer Camp, applicants must be at least 16 years old and must be able to lift and care for a camper.

“No previous care-giving experience is necessary,” Smith said. “We provide a full, three-and-a-half-hour training session.”

She added, “It certainly doesn’t hurt to have previous experience, though.”

Smith also stressed that there are no expenses involved with volunteering at the camp.

“Thanks to our fundraising efforts and the help of our community,” she said, “we can provide our camp to both campers and volunteers completely free of charge.”

“Our camp is an incredibly rewarding experience,” she continued. “Our campers have highly unique life perspectives. This opportunity is especially beneficial for anyone interested in pursuing a career in the medical field or in education — especially early childhood education.”

In addition to the application itself, the process also includes an interview and background checks. The deadline for applications is April 19.

“We especially need male volunteers,” Smith added. “That seems to be the case every year. The process is quite a bit more competitive for female applicants, simply because there’s so many more who apply. So if you’re interested in volunteering and you’re male, you have a very good chance.”

For more information on volunteering at the MDA of Central Indiana Summer Camp, call Ashley Mills or Victoria Saust at 317-824-4800.

 

Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.