Camp program brings joy to region's special children

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:57

    MILFORD n If the radiant smiles aren’t proof enough that The Ingeborg A. Biondo Memorial Foundation’s 2005 Summer Camp Program was a success, then the post-camp comments surely are. “This was the perfect camp experience for [my son] at this point in his life. He was fully included in all activities, felt very comfortable there, and truly enjoyed it all. He’s already talking about going back next year!” wrote one satisfied parent, while others described how their children learned to follow new routines, develop their social skills, improve peer interaction and gain increased independence. “I’m thrilled to see the number of campers increase to 72 this year,” enthuses Joseph P. Biondo. “That’s more than double the 29 we sent last year.” Undoubtedly, Joseph’s mother, Ingeborg, in whose memory the Foundation and its camping program was established, would be pleased to see so many special children enjoying the unique experience that is summer camp. Mother of four and a devoted advocate for specially-abled children, Ingeborg’s life inspired the effort that would evolve into The Ingeborg A. Biondo Memorial Foundation. Ingeborg’s legacy of compassion continues to grow along with the successful camping program. Today, the Biondo family, along with a group of highly committed board members, make every effort to bring together typical children and children with special needs in a traditional camp setting. “The children mainstream right into the traditional camp group. They integrate very well and gain so much from the camp, while giving so much in return,” says Cherrie Hammond, Chief Operating Officer at Camp Speers-Eljabar YMCA, Dingman’s Ferry, PA, one of three camps that host Foundation campers. The children enjoyed canoeing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, archery and swimming at the 1,100-acre facility, thanks to funding provided by the Foundation. “It gives us a chance to play and work with children whose needs may be different from our own,” explains Hammond. Country Ark Farm, Milford, PA, practiced its mission to enhance the quality of life for physically, mentally and emotionally-challenged children and adults by welcoming campers whose fees were covered by the Biondo Foundation. Campers participated in various pet, art and recreation therapies while learning to care for the array of animals living on the Farm. “My daughter came home ecstatic each day with loads of crafts and stories to tell. She loved the staff and has already begged me to let her go next year,” confided one parent. Near Branchville, New Jersey, Camp Linwood MacDonald YMCA also received campers through the Foundation’s funding program. Children participated in activities such as games, sports and nature study to promote cooperation and self-esteem in an effort to help campers grow physically, mentally and spiritually. In addition to camp fees, the Biondo Foundation has paid for one-on-one support staff to accompany campers when necessary. And a special Respite Care Program provides caregivers and other family members with well-deserved freedom from their demanding duties. “The Foundation should get more credit for the support it brings to parents of special needs children,” says Hammond. Camperships are provided by The Ingeborg A. Biondo Memorial Foundation to children with special needs living within the tri-state region of PA, NY and NJ. To obtain information on eligibility or to sponsor a child for the 2006 camp season, call Maria Crawford, Development Coordinator, at 570-686-2402