Three years ago, Dylan, now 12, would have spent a day at camp filled with anxiety and unable to talk to anyone. On Friday, he waved and said "Hi" to Wendy Scarborough, recreation supervisor for the county's Recreation and Parks' adaptive and inclusive programs.
“I got goose bumps when he did it,” Scarborough said.
“That’s amazing. Three years ago he wouldn’t have said hello to anyone,” Dylan’s aunt Sharon Craft said. “It’s all because of Ms. Wendy and the staff here.”
Dylan along with about 80 other kids finished their last day of Lake Waterford Park Day Camp on Friday. The camp is an adaptive and inclusive camp for kids ages 4 to 21.
“We adapt for those with disabilities but everyone is welcome,” Scarborough said. “The camp builds diversity among the kids and includes everyone.”
The camp is held at Lake Waterford Park in Pasadena, which has an adaptive recreations athletic field and a wheel-chair accessible playground.
“The field is really cool,” said Matt Rei, one of two camp directors. “It is a sports field for kids with special needs. It is made of a rubber material so wheelchairs can easily use the field.”
The camp runs for two weeks in Pasadena and then moves to Mayo Beach in Edgewater for six more weeks. One of the most beneficial things about the camp is the one-to-three staff-to-camper ratio. Scarborough said if you include all the volunteers that help out, it is more like one-on-one.
“Since starting at Lake Waterford, [Dylan] has come very, very far,” said Craft, who drives from Crownsville for the camp. “They have wonderful staff here that brings out the best in all of the kids whether it is with the sports programs or the camps.”
Scarborough said many of the counselors at the camp started as volunteers and worked their way up.
Mark McCain, 18, has been working with Lake Waterford Day Camp for six years. He now lives in Delaware and still makes the trip to Pasadena to be a counselor.
“It’s a passion I think,” McCain said. “They have grown on me a lot. I have basically grown up with this camp. You have to love what you do in order to do it well and I love it. I love the camp and the kids.”
Hanover resident and mom Erin Pipes has been bringing her now 14-year-old son, Jared, to Lake Waterford for seven years. She said Jared has shown a lot of improvements since he first started. She had tried other camps before Lake Waterford, but said they just didn’t work out.
“The counselors here are fantastic,” Pipes said. “There really isn’t anywhere else where these kids can go and be the popular kid and fit in. They are not judged or looked at cross-eyed when they have a meltdown or just don’t feel well. It is a great situation for them.”
Camp director Joe Mavor, 25, is a physical education teacher at Severn Elementary School. He first got involved with the camp when he was a freshman in college.
“The camp gave me great training before I got to be a teacher,” Mavor said. “The camp helps the kids and the families and everyone involved. The kids have some place to come where they can have a great time and interact with kids just like themselves, and the parents know their kids are coming to a safe and fun environment.”