MONKTON, Md. (WJZ) — For the past six years, a special camp in Baltimore County has brought together children with limb differences to take part in a care-free summer camp experience.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic this year, the camp went on, helping kids break boundaries and make unforgettable memories with others just like them.
“This camp is fun,” attendee Sophia Mortenson said. “I’m able to just like be myself I guess… and be with my friends.”
Dr. Joshua Abzug, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Maryland, created “Camp Open Arms” six years ago in Monkton to provide a safe, nurturing space for children with limb differences.
“(It’s a space) where there’s no bullying, no racism, they don’t have to worry about anyone making fun of them and they can overcome challenges that they may not be willing or comfortable trying in other environments,” he said.
At camp, the childrens’ differences bring them together.
“Since we all like have something in common, we’re all like, we all have some limb difference, that it’s kind of easier to be around I guess,” Mortenson said.
That makes a big difference for camp attendees.
“We love camp,” Jessica Harmon, whose daughter Rosa attends, said. “She’s made a lot of friends, she’s overcome so many fears that she’s had.”
To ensure campers’ safety in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, staff members put new protocols in place.
“Even in the heat and humidity, the children have been in their masks and staying far apart as much as possible,” Abzug said.
To follow CDC guidelines, events and activities were held outside.
Fittingly, this year’s camp theme was the great outdoors.
“We’ve done ropes course, yesterday we got to go ride horses,” Mortenson said.
“There was water games which was really fun,” camper Maddie Bynion added.
The campers also learned how to overcome challenges like being brave.
Although the camp is only a week long, the campers leave with lifelong friendships.
“I just tell them its okay, you’re not alone in the world,” Bynion said.
To learn more about the program, click here.