By Carol Marsh
GREENVILLE — Summer crafts, laughter, races, and making new friends were among the many activities students shared while spending time at the Darke County Educational Service Center (ESC)’s “Camp LINK” summer day camp, which took place this week at Chenoweth Trails Park in Greenville.
“Camp LINK,” which stands for Learning and Leadership experiences with Inclusive but Individualized activities in a Nurturing and Kind environment, was created to give children and youth with significant disabilities an opportunity to have a summer day camp experience. First through twelfth grade students from the Ansonia, Arcanum-Butler, Bradford, Franklin-Monroe, Greenville, Mississinawa Valley, and Tri-Village school districts, who were identified with a disability by their school district, were eligible to attend the day-long camp.
Camp LINK, which started in 2019 with 21 campers, was cancelled last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s camp hosted 13 students along with their caregivers, with each one receiving a camp T-shirt, lunch, snacks, supplies, and limited transportation provided by the school districts.
“There were many opportunities to have a camp experience for kids outside of Darke County, so we thought that we would try something here, in Darke County, to give kids with significant disabilities a summer day camp experience,” said Bill Nellis, Director of Special Education Programs for Darke County Schools. “COVID prevented us from doing anything in the summer last year (2020)…but during the school year, the multiple disabilities classrooms come here, to Chenoweth Trails, so we wanted to come back to Chenoweth Trails for our summer program.”
Camp LINK 2021 morning stations included crafts such as making sensory bottles and shakers, painting rocks, and playing in sensory rice, moon sand, and ice. After lunch and free time, campers used their new musical instruments for Music therapy with Board Certified Music Therapist Lyndsay Richey. Afterward, the Camp LINK 2021 relay races were held, with encouragement, laughter, and plenty of fun.
Volunteers who assisted in Camp LINK activities for the day were Bill Nellis, Lisa Giuffre, Roxann Bickel, Jodi Rinehart, Jodi Fritz, Anita Dehner, Jessica Shaffer, Michelle Stutz, Bryan Kyle, Kristin Miller, Miranda Miller, Amy VanSkyock, Kristina Quigney, Kenna Quigney, Kallista Quigney, Josie McCullough, Macey O’Dell, Kathy Brown, Denise Garland, and Karsi Sprowl.
“Everyone has volunteered their time today, school teachers and teacher’s aids, friends, Darke County ESC, Darke DD staff, and family,” said Arcanum Elementary Intervention Specialist Amy Beanblossom. “This would not be possible without them!”
Many thanks to Camp Link 2021 sponsors, including the Light Foundation, Wendy’s, Dave Knapp Ford, ARCON Builders, RJ Warner Insurance Agency, Graves Fearon Agency, Gordan and Edsantis Orthodontics, G & G Flooring, Coblentz Insurance Agency, Garbig & Schmidt Attorney, Roth Company Tax Prep, Wielands Jeweler, Darke County Juvenile/Probate Court, Greenville National Bank, Leis Realty, Hittle Buick, Jafe Decorating, Judge Jonathan Hein, Belle Fiole Tanning, Flory Landscaping, Immanuel Church Women’s Guild, Troutwine Car Dealership, Helen’s Flowers and Gifts, and Loudy Office.
When asked about supporting the Darke County ESC and next year’s Camp LINK, Nellis encouraged the community to reach out.
“Helping out with the planning, even if you are unable to be here, is important,” said Nellis. “Support of any kind is so appreciated — supplies, goods, or financially. Volunteers are always welcome!”
Questions about Camp LINK, or how you can help? Contact Bill Nellis at [email protected], or visit the Camp LINK Facebook page at www.facebook.com/darkecountycamplink/.
Carol Marsh covers community interest stories and handles obituaries for The Daily Advocate. Have an event or suggestion to share? She can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by phone at 937-569-4314.