by guest blogger Marcia Theodoredis
Anyone who has experienced summer camp holds those memories near and dear. They are precious to us and enduring. That experience should be available to all children. At the Growing Green residential camp, located in the Pocono Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania, Easter Seals Eastern Pennsylvania is making the dream of summer camp a reality for kids with disabilities while they also learn green occupational skills.
The primary focus of Growing Green is to teach organic gardening and green landscaping to our campers in a designed vegetable and herb garden. Depending on the stage of the garden’s growth, campers spend each morning tilling, planting, or harvesting their crops. An additional benefit lies in bringing the produce to the kitchen and learning how to create new and interesting recipes using a variety of herbs and berries from the garden.
Camper Shannon offers this, “I eat well to stay strong. The veggies make me strong.” Shannon now tends a summer garden at home after learning to care for the garden she helped to plant at Growing Green.
Wheelchairs, autism, and developmental disabilities seem to disappear at Growing Green once the counselors get the kids fully engaged in the garden. Everyone participates at his or her own unique level. Some of the kids are like bulldozers and do a great job with the weeding. Others enjoy a quieter experience and enjoy planting individual seeds.
Camp counselors and staff are professional and experienced, with some holding degrees in Wildlife Conservation and Ecology. But they are also clever with an innate ability to adapt the garden activities to their audience.
In addition to learning green occupational skills, Growing Green campers gain environmental appreciation and enjoy sports, fitness, and time with friends. But that’s another blog. Learn more about Growing Green by visiting www.esep.easterseals.com, or call Growing Green Program Director, Alex Humanick, at 610-866-8092.
For more than 85 years, Easter Seals Easter Pennsylvania has offered assessment, treatment, family support, and community education, assisting children and young adults living with disabilities to lead healthy, productive lives.