by Lisa Tome
Chris Steenkemer took a job at Camp C.A.R.E because he needed to work this summer.
He didn't expect to love his job.
"It's been really fun. I am learning along with the kids. Everyone is a little different here. It's really been just fun. I highly recommend it, even though I'm not an education major," said Steenkemer, of Rising Sun, who is studying computer engineering at University of Maryland - College Park. For the second year, the camp which serves those ages 5-20 who have physical, emotional, and developmental difficulties, was held at the Rising Sun Community Center. After a three week run, the 2013 camp wrapped up last Friday.
Roberta LaPorte is the camp director. She was in charge of overseeing the 45 campers from throughout the county and the 38 staffers. The three weeks were packed with activities including trips to Conowingo Pool and Six Flags theme park. There was also a camp picnic, a fire prevention presentation from the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun, a talent show, and a special water day. Daily activities included crafts, music therapy, fishing, baseball, nature walks, art, entertainment, games, and more.
"We want to expose them to as much as possible," said LaPorte. Samantha Wells of Perryville was rehearsing for last week's talent show. Wells was planning to sing along with Justin Bieber and perform a dance routine. "I want to sing a song for everybody, for all my friends," said Wells. Steven Snyder, 12, of Charlestown was a camper this year. Snyder said he enjoyed the camp, particularly fishing for bass and blue gill.
Many of those who served as camp counselors are studying education and special education. Hannah Hierstetter attends West Virginia University. She learned a new skill this summer, "I learned sign language. I am taking a class in that next semester and that will help me," said Hierstetter.
Katlyn Hogue's long term goal is to earn a master's degree in Special Education. "Everything I learn here transfers to there (college). And everything I learn there, transfers to here," said Hogue.
Damien Shiel, 17, is a volunteer at the camp. He hopes to return next year as a paid staffer. "I love it here. I love working with these kids," said Shiel, who hopes to be a special education teacher.
"This group of counselors just works so well together. This group of counselors has been absolutely phenomenal. They have really been a dream team," said LaPorte.
The summer of 2014 will mark the 20th anniversary of Camp C.A.R.E. The camp is operated through Bayside Community Network.