By JOSH SHANNON
The Cecil Whig
ELKTON, Md. (AP) — A summer day camp for special needs children is in limbo while organizers race to find a new home for the
Camp C.A.R.E., operated by Bayside Community Network, has for 17 years been held at Sandy Cove Ministries near North East.
However, the Christian-based conference center and retreat can no longer accommodate the campers.
Camp officials have been trying unsuccessfully since the fall to find a new location and are now appealing to the community for
“This camp really does mean the world to them,” director Karl Guldner said, referring to the 50 kids who attend each year. “It’s
so important to us that we find a place to hold the camp.”
The application process has already been delayed, and Guldner said he needs to find a location within a month to have enough time to hire staff and process applications from potential campers.
Guldner is looking to lease a pavilion or indoor space and a place for the campers to swim — either a pool or a beach area. The
location must be able to accommodate up to 50 campers and 32 staff members and be wheelchair accessible.
The camp is tentatively scheduled for July 16 through Aug. 3. Guldner said he is confident he can find a new location.
“We’re definitely going forward with a camp,” he said.
Guldner said the camp is flexible, and that he realizes he may not find a location like the campers are used to at Sandy Cove,
where the camp previously leased a pavilion and swimming space.
“We’d be happy to talk to anyone who can help us with any part of the camp,” he said. “We realize there may not be someone who can help us with everything..this is going to be a big change for us.”
Officials at Sandy Cove would not agree to be interviewed, but president Mark Fisher released a statement saying he offered
Guldner alternate dates to use the facility. However, the dates would not work because the campers would still be in school then.
“At Sandy Cove, we are huge fans of the good work of Camp C.A.R.E.,” according to the statement. “However, due to the
growth and needs of our day camp, The Marsh, we could not serve Camp C.A.R.E. during the summer of 2012.”
Camp C.A.R.E. was founded in 1995 and is the only special needs summer camp in Cecil County. It is open to kids age 5 to 20 who are enrolled in school full time and have developmental impairments, autism, cerebral palsy or other disabilities.
The campers are treated to three weeks of swimming, bowling, horseback riding and other activities, plus weekly field trips to
destinations like the Cecil County Fair and an amusement park.
The camp is funded by the county government, the United Way and several other organizations and private donors. Campers help raise money, but do not pay formal tuition.
Parents of the campers say the camp is an important part of their children’s summer.
Connie Colosimo, of Elkton, told the Whig last year that said Camp C.A.R.E. offered many opportunities to her son, Kyle.
“This camp has come to mean the world to (Kyle),” she said. “It is also the only help that parents get in a year, because when
your child has disabilities, you worry about their well-being. With this camp’s staff, though, you never have to worry about your
Mark Coleman, of Elkton, said his son, Sean, who has been diagnosed with global developmental delay and cerebral palsy,
thoroughly enjoyed the camp.
“After his first day at camp, though, he was so tired he couldn’t even smile,” Coleman said in August. “I think it’s safe
to say that he will definitely be back next year.”
Guldner is asking anyone who may be able to help find a new location for the camp to contact him at (410) 398-6394.
Information from: Cecil Whig of Elkton, Md., http://www.cecilwhig.com
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)