“This year we had 53 signed up for Special Ministry camp,” said coordinator Patrice Rosenau, who does Special Ministry work at Bell Road Baptist Church in Auburn.
The week-long camp was founded in 1986 by long-time Auburn resident Eleanor Bailey, who recognized the importance of having a camp specifically for individuals with special needs.
When Bailey retired from camp leadership last year, Rosenan, 28, took over. She had worked in the Camp Alta kitchen for the past seven years.
“We had a few changes this year, which included more activities,” she added. “We had a lot of new nurses on staff this year as well as our core of volunteers. This was a big year of trying a different schedule, but I think it worked out and I’m looking forward to next year.”
One of the excited campers was former Colfax resident Carol Carnahan, who has been coming to Camp Alta for several years. Carnahan now lives in an Auburn group home and works at Pride Industries.
“I like swimming and being in the talent show,” said Carnahan, who enjoys singing and playing the piano. “We also learn Bible stories and get to spend time with our friends.”
Carnahan, along with her friend Judy Methvin, were excited about this year’s Western theme – delighting in wearing the colorful cowboy hats given to them when they arrived.
Methvin said her favorite part of the week was making crafts and spending time at the pool.
“My favorite part of camp is having fun and having friends,” added Carmichael resident Julie Schwall. “Some people have disabilities. Do you know what Down syndrome is? That is what I have. It just means I am a little slow and different, but nobody is perfect.”
When asked what he enjoyed most about camp, Shane Bruno, who lives in Dutch Flat with his mom, replied, “Everything!”
For Darlene Bruno, the opportunity to send her son to a camp has been a blessing.
“I truly don’t have words to express how I feel about the camp,” said Darlene Bruno as tears formed in her eyes. “I remember the time when my friend’s kids outgrew Shane. It was a rude awakening that my child will never grow up. Camp makes Shane feel like he has a normal activity just like everyone else and he looks forward to it.
“There are very limited opportunities for the developmentally disabled. I am so grateful for everyone who helps to pull it all together. It is exciting to hear Shane say ‘I am going to church camp!’ and know he is cared for by all the volunteers,” she said.
At the closing ceremony on Friday, the campers sang and clapped to the music and they talked about what they learned throughout the week.
As their sleeping bags and suitcases were being loaded into cars, the campers waved goodbye to their friends and thanked the staff for another great year.
“I sure had a good time.” said David Gallup of Auburn. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll be back next year!”
8/19/21 – Marci Seither, Colfax Record correspondent