A unique camping experience
It began forty-five years ago as a weekend escape for adults with physical disabilities looking to spend time in the great outdoors. Today, Camp Independence has evolved into a beloved week-long overnight camping experience where life-long friendships are maintained and memories are made.
First a joint effort between MossRehab and Variety Club Camp but now run exclusively by MossRehab, Camp Independence serves a unique population and offers an experience to campers who might not otherwise have the opportunity due to their special needs. For many, this week is their summer vacation with the chance to participate in traditional social and recreational camp activities.
Designed for adults over the age of eighteen, Camp Independence can accommodate campers with varying levels of physical abilities, from totally independent to those needing various levels of assistance, and offers individualized attention. All activities and facilities are designed to be accessible whether the camper is living with the effects of stroke, cerebral palsy, paraplegia, brain injury, amputation or multiple sclerosis.
“Our campers come from all over to participate,” says Anne Wieland, CTRS, MHA, Team Leader for MossRehab’s Recreational Therapy Department and Administrator of Camp Independence. “Some have been coming for twenty or thirty years. There is an incredible bond among the campers and with the counselors, many who take a week off from their ‘day job’ to come to camp. Sometimes, I’m not sure who enjoys the experience more.”
Most of the camp counselors are students studying recreational, physical, occupational or speech therapy, nursing or other health professions. Some are special education teachers who use their summer vacation time to come to camp. Camp Independence is also staffed by a nurse twenty- four hours a day and MossRehab’s residents rotate 24-hour shifts for the duration of the week.
The goal is to expose the campers to a variety of traditional camp activities through sports, crafts, swimming, nature and other activities that are not only fun, but have rehabilitation value as well. Wieland explains, “For many camp participants outdoor experiences are not part of their normal routine so we plan to be outside as much as possible.”