Camp Sunshine celebrates treasures

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Camp Sunshine — a camp for people with developmental disabilities — held the four-day, three-night camp in two sessions at Camp Blodgett in West Olive over the past week.

While each camper examined their newly crafted telescope by raising it to one eye, Ken Owen took a break from crafts by tossing a football with his counselor.

Owen said he's attended Camp Sunshine since 2005.

“I like coming here every year,” he said.

This summer, counselors — called special friends — came from 12 high schools and more than 20 colleges. There is a 1-to-1 camper-to-counselor ratio, but some campers have more than one special friend.

Some families volunteer for a few hours at a time together. In total, more than 600 volunteers make the nine-day program happen, said Cindy Terlouw, the camp's executive director.

“It’s quite a commitment,” she said.

Hopeful campers from Ottawa, Kent and Allegan counties apply in February for the chance to participate. Campers must meet specific criteria, but some end up on a waiting list because there's not enough volunteers or space.

“The board is in the process of investigating future growth for the Camp Sunshine program,” Terlouw said.

Camp Chaplain Mimi Bush said attending camp is a gift because campers teach her how to live fully and be present in the moment.

“It’s a privilege to be here,” she said. “They are my teachers for their willingness to be vulnerable.”

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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