By KELCIE PEGHER
Carroll County Times
WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — Sydney and Kendal Joyce stood at the front of the camp pavilion to prepare for their above water synchronized swimming talent. From her wheelchair, Sydney joined Kendal in a longtime camp song.
“Baby shark do doo doo doo doo do,” the two began singing as they made jaws out of their two hands. Their song was met with a round of applause.
Sydney and Kendal are 13-year-old twins, but they have a stark difference. Sydney suffers from cerebral palsy, and has
difficulties after a brain bleed and a stroke both affected her right side.
The two attend different schools, and Kendal is in eighth grade, while Sydney is in seventh grade. Like many siblings, they have different interests, but they are able to get together once a year for the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Camp S.O.A.R., or Sibling Outdoor Adventure Retreat.
The Hashawha Environmental Center in Westminster was filled with campers recently as parents joined their children for their annual talent show. Camp S.O.A.R. began three years ago, through the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Around half of the 34 campers were patients at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, which helps children and adolescents with brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal disorders or injuries. The other half of the campers are siblings who join in for the weekend-long camp.
“I work in the inpatient unit and we just noticed a discord between siblings,” Kelley Marcue, the camp director and therapist at Kennedy Krieger said. “We noticed that sometimes the siblings didn’t know how to play or interact or have fun with their siblings. We chose to have this camp to let them know everyone can have fun regardless of their ability.”
This year’s theme of Camp S.O.A.R. was the Olympics. It featured opening ceremonies, creating edible Olympic rings and torches, and family Olympics, where families created various home decorations from family trees, decorating photo frames.
“Seeing how (the campers are) working together and seeing how creative they are has been one of the most touching things,” Marcue said.
Sydney and Kendal have been attending the camp since it began three years ago. Kendal attends many camps in the summer, including cooking camps and cop camps. Kendal said what is the most different about the Kennedy Krieger Institute is the two girls are able to do the camp together.
“She mainly is like go off and do your own thing, I don’t need you, and so she goes and I go and do my own thing,” Sydney said.
Sydney and Kendal’s father, Tony, said this weekend is great for the girls because Kendal doesn’t feel quite as compelled to become a caretaker for Sydney.
“One of the challenges for the siblings is oftentimes when the siblings are at home; they also help be caretakers for their
brothers and sisters. So here it’s just time for them to have fun as well and be taken care of and be waited on,” said Elisa Delia, assistant administrator of Kennedy Krieger.
Jose Quiroz, 12, came to the camp with his sister Marisol, also 12, who suffers from encephalitis, a brain injury that causes inflammation of brain tissue. This was their first year at the camp.
Jose participated in the talent show to make a human knot with the camp counselors, even though his sister didn’t feel like it. There were 66 volunteers, so typically each child had two counselors with them.
The kids pulled pranks on each other in their separate boys and girls cabins. The girls from Kendal’s cabin toilet papered the boy’s cabin’s bed. The girls from Marisol’s cabin set off the megaphone alarm button while the boys were going to bed.
Jose goes to many camps, but said he definitely wants to come back to this one next year.
“It’s a good weekend for them to spend together. This is a good time at least once a year where they can appreciate each other,” Tony Joyce, said.
Information from: Carroll County Times of Westminster, Md., http://www.carrollcounty.com/
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)