Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp
WillowWood invited our friends at the Amputee Coalition to be our guest blogger and share information about their Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp, something near and dear to WillowWood and our staff. To apply as a camper or a counselor or to make a donation towards the camp, visit the Amputee Coalition’s website.
Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp
Camp. The word evokes warm summer days, laughing with friends late into the night, and stretching your comfort zone.
These are all part of the experience at the Amputee Coalition Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp held at the Joy Outdoor Education Center in Clarksville, Ohio. Even more important are the lasting friendships and the personal growth. By blending counselors who live with limb difference or limb loss and an accessible traditional camp, you get an incredible, transforming experience for the campers who attend every year.
Born as the Youth Initiative in 2000, the Amputee Coalition now offers a traditional camp experience to kids from 10 to 17 years old living with a limb difference or limb loss. In 2017, 131 kids came from across the United States to take on the ropes course and the rock climbing wall, to play volleyball and other team sports, and to be “normal” for one week out of the summer. The effects last much longer, since 100 percent of parents tell us they want their child to return.
In 2016, we also added a leadership camp segment with a curriculum that combines the camp experience with leadership development to help 18- and 19-year-olds acquire life skills as they transition from high school to college and careers. They also serve as mentors during the discussion groups, which cover topics in a way that only others living with limb loss or difference really understand.
In 2018, we plan to expand, welcoming more campers. “Our hope is to offer every person who applies the chance to join us at camp,” says Tonya Osborne-Simpson, director of peer support programs at the Amputee Coalition. “We know our campers always come away with something new, often something life-changing. How? Because they come back, as campers and as counselors.”
Our Donors and Sponsors Make It Happen
This camp would not be possible without our generous donors and sponsors who make this camp experience happen for these 10-to-17-year-old campers. Their gifts cover the cost of camp, as well as travel to camp.
WillowWood (willowwoodco.com), an Ohio-based prosthetics product manufacturing company, has been a big camp sponsor for several years. Besides making a major financial contribution and helping organize the kids at the airport, every year the employees create a beautiful and fun-filled carnival night for the kids.
The Camp Experience
Campers leave their electronics at the door and spend their time getting to know each other, exploring the camp grounds, and participating in organized (and spontaneous) activities. The days are filled with activities like a ropes course, a dip in the pool or a paddle in the lake, and facilitated conversations about topics ranging from how it feels to be the only kid “like me” in school, to how to handle awkward personal questions, to when to tell people about your limb difference.
Our campers are part of what makes the experience so special. They come from all over the United States, each with their own story. They reach out to each other to offer support and insight – and to plan an ice cream raid on the next cabin. They try things they never imagined they would and create and nurture friendships.
Our counselors are special, too. Most of them have a limb difference or a close connection with the community, or are former campers, and all of them are willing to give up a little sleep to make someone’s camp experience one to remember.
Most importantly, the Amputee Coalition works to create a safe, nurturing environment that allows campers to be themselves.