Due to California's budget mess, $52,000 in annual state support for Easter Seals Southern California's week-long camp for people with disabilities is likely not coming July 1, so the nonprofit will be scrambling over the next five weeks to make up for the loss and continue the 36-year run at Camp Oakes in the San Bernardino Mountains.
"Our campers come from all over Southern California and look forward to this week all year long," says Debbie Ball, Easter Seals' regional vice president, in a media statement. "Many who attend Easter Seals Camp Oakes have been doing so their whole lives. A lot of our campers experience significant limitations in their daily lives due to their individual disability. Camp is their one opportunity to stretch and grow-to experience freedom to explore personally, emotionally and socially. The experience is truly life-changing for campers and volunteers alike."
Activities at the American Camping Association-accredited Camp Oakes include canoeing, archery, horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, campfire sing-a-longs, a talent show and more. It is totally staffed by volunteers, some who have been coming to help annually for more than two decades, from points as far away as New York, Maryland, Oregon and Texas.
"At camp, everyone is accepted just as they are and can participate in as many activities as they desire," Leah Bocian-Collinwood, an 18-year camp veteran who lives with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, says in the same statement. "It's through my experiences at camp over the years that I've learned to embrace my cerebral palsy as a gift from God. Camp gave me the courage and strength to set goals for myself and make my dreams come true, including going to college and marrying my soul mate."
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Funds willing, the camp is scheduled to run Aug. 2-8. Easter Seals is accepting online donations here. Potential donors can also call Lisa Paquet at (714) 834-1111, ext. 215.