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Amputee Coalition Youth Camp: A Confidence-Building Experience

Attending the Amputee Coalition’s youth camp allows campers, such as (from left) Kylie Smith and Alexandra Jobe, to make new friends and reacquaint themselves with old friends. Photograph courtesy of Amy Di Leo.

This year marked the 15th annual youth camp for the Amputee Coalition. The Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp was held July 19-23 at Camp Joy, Clarksville, Ohio.

In total, 131 campers, counselors, and interns gathered; campers came from 30 states, and two traveled from Germany to attend. Many of the counselors are former campers who want to give back to other children with limb loss and limb difference once they age out of camp. Among the counselors were Paralympians Keith Gabel, Tyler Carter, Lacey Henderson, and Travis Ricks.

Each year, the camp provides sports, recreation, and social activities for campers, such as fishing, canoeing, archery, nature hikes, team field sports, sitting volleyball, swimming, basketball, creative arts, and educational programs. In the creative arts program the children had opportunities to make suncatchers, bracelets, cards, and music videos. There is also a rock climbing wall and a fully accessible ropes course where each child can set his or her own personal level of challenge. Peer discussion groups facilitated by older campers and amputee mentors help young campers learn that they are not alone. This year included a special western-themed dance and a pool party.

Leadership training has also been developed for campers 15 to 17 years old to prepare them to be camp counselors and leaders in their schools and communities. Each night, the camp hosts social events that offer campers the opportunity to enjoy dancing, performing, role-playing, and other activities.

One mother sent a letter to the Amputee Coalition, reporting on her daughter’s experience: “It was an emotional and confidence-building experience,…one she’ll never forget. There is no way to express enough gratitude to all those who made this camp possible.”