by Lisa Tome
Ryley Baginski is spending part of his summer fitting in.
Baginski, who is non-verbal and autistic, is enrolled in Camp Care for the third time.
"It's been so amazing. He has the opportunity to have a typical camp experience with the supports he needs and we need," said Ryley's mother, Heather Baginski of Elkton.
"It's irreplaceable to know he's going to an environment where his peers are supporting and accepting of him. As a parent, that is irreplaceable. There is nothing else like this," Baginski said.
Roberta LaPorte is director of Camp Care. She is in charge of overseeing the 54 campers, ages 5-20 from throughout the county, and the 43 staffers.
The free camp started July 21 and runs weekdays through August 8. The camp is based at the Cecil County Community Center near Rising Sun.
On Thursday, the campers and staff were at Plumpton Park Zoo. Other activities include swimming at Conowingo Pool, a magician, music therapy, movies, a photo booth, Six Flags America trip, bowling trip, monster water slides, and more.
The camp serves a wide range of those with special needs. LaPorte explained that two of this year's campers have rare disorders.
One camper has been diagnosed as one of only two people in the world with that particular disorder. Another has a disorder shared by only 250 others worldwide.
"We have the entire spectrum here," said LaPorte, of the various needs served.
Adam Huffman, 13, of Port Deposit, is highly functioning and autistic. Evan Brown is a counselor who works with Huffman and other campers. Brown will be a senior at University of Delaware this fall.
"I love it (working at Camp Care). This is my fourth year. I can't imagine my summers without it. I will miss it next year. But it's time for me to join the real world (of work)," said Brown.
Noah Webb, 14, is also a camper this year. "In my perspective, this camp helps kids with special needs. I have autism. And I've overcome a lot. This camp is a lot of fun. It keeps me occupied," said Webb of Chesapeake City. "Everybody treats me like I don't have autism."