Camp Munroe: One of a kind experience

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July 16th, 2013

Kevin and Jen Buchholz are grateful that their six-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, can attend a camp that fits her needs. (Photo Courtesy KVNO News)

Kevin and Jen Buchholz are grateful that their six-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, can attend a camp that fits her needs. (Photo Courtesy KVNO News)

Kevin and Jen Buchholz were looking for a way to transition their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, into preschool. The Buchholz didn’t want to enroll their toddler into just any program, they needed one designed to care for a child with special needs. Fortunately, they found Camp Munroe at the Munroe-Meyer Institute located at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
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“This is the only camp that I know of like this,” Jen said.  “I feel so blessed that there is some place for her to provide the services she needs for her to have fun.”

Six-year-old Brooklyn has an undiagnosed mental handicap that has affected her speech, communication, fine motor skills and social interactions.

“They have the supervision that she needs,” Jen said.  “She needs kind of that one-on-one redirection and they have that with the volunteers they have here.”

The camp began 31 years ago through the J P Lord School and the Hattie B. Munroe Foundation in an effort to give students with disabilities the opportunity to have a summer experience that fits their needs, according to Kelley Coutts, assistant director of the Munroe Meyer Recreational Therapy Department.

“I think what makes it really unique is that it is a place where all types of kids can come and really have that fun summer experience,” Coutts said.

The six-week camp offers cooking classes, field trips, sports, games, and indoor and outdoor swimming.

Coutts said the supportive atmosphere gives participants a chance to have a little independence and create memories.

“I truly believe that everyone should be able to have their own story at the dinner table,” Coutts said. “That’s kind of what this place is. Maybe they have sibling who are doing different type of summer activities. This is their place. And when they go home they get to tell their stories about their day at camp.”

The program is staffed by a group of more than 200 volunteers. Sixteen-year-old Lilly Kegley began volunteering when she was twelve. She said volunteering with Camp Munroe has been an eye-opening experience.

“When I was younger I thought people who had disabilities were different and I learned that they just want to be like normal people and that they have feelings,” Kegley said.

She said that for her, the biggest reward has been developing relationships with campers and other volunteers.

“It just brings everyone so much joy to be here,” Kegley said. “It’s fun to recognize people in the hallways and they’ll wave. It’s fun seeing people grow.”

Jen said that Camp Munroe has become a part of who Brooklyn is.

“They’ve watched her grow,” Jen said. “In fact when the staff members said I can’t believe we’ve seen her through all these different phases of I don’t want to come to camp and crying to I can’t believe this is the same child who loves to come to camp. We love camp Munroe.”

Omaha Street Percussion will perform for campers July 24. The camp will run until August 2.

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