Enrichment programs open this summer through the Disability Services Resource Center

Summer camps keep kids busy and learning through the summer.

The agency also offers an adaptive sports program to let people of all abilities and with special needs join teams and experience the thrill of victory.For the last two summers, though, COVID-19 restrictions forced many camps to cancel or significantly modify their programs.

Gail Frahm, Executive Director of the Disability Services Resource Center (DSRC), says her agency will offer 2022 summer programs, but with a few changes. For example, the new name is the DSRC Summer Special Needs Enrichment Programs, or SSNEPs for short. Second, the location. Another change is location. This summer, the SSNEPs will be held at Linsday Elementary School.

DSRC, based at 1820 N. Trumbull Drive, builds ramps, maintains a no-cost loan closet for durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers, offers an adaptive sports program, and provides disability awareness training.

In 2021, DSRC took over the Camp Meadows, Greener Pastures, and Open Fields camp programs from the YWCA for kids with special needs.

For 39 years, the YWCA offered the special needs camps to people 5 and older in the area. However, as the YWCA’s mission has evolved, it decided to offer the DSRC the chance to take over the camps. In 2021, the DSRC offered mini camps. Visit the DSRC website to see what's being offered this summer.

Below, read about two campers experiences with past programs:

Katie MadziarKatie Madziar

Katie Madziar is 14 years old. She is a seventh grader at Cramer Junior High in Essexville. Katie has attended Camp Meadows for several years. 

Q: How long have you been involved in Camp Meadows?

A: I attended Camp Meadows when it was run by the YWCA for three or four years in a row.

Q: What is your favorite part of Camp Meadows?

A: My favorite thing about Camp Meadows is playing with other kids. 

Q: What else do you enjoy about Camp Meadows?

A: One of the years, camp was focused on learning about Michigan. I really enjoyed that experience. 

Q: How has participating in Open Fields helped you grow?

A: I liked learning about how to be kind to everyone. Camp Meadows helped me practice being kind.” 

Q: What do you wish people knew about these summer programs?

A: I would like people to know that Camp Meadows is really fun!

Q: If the summer programs didn't exist, what do you think you'd be doing this summer?

A: If I didn't have the summer program to attend,I  would be bored.

Jimmy HaysJimmy Hays

Jimmy Hays, who participated in the Open Fields program, has a zest for life and does everything with gusto. He is always eager to help. He enjoys playing basketball, video games, and singing. "King Of My Heart" is his favorite song. He greets everyone with his radiant smile and calls you by name. In spring of 2020, he was voted "Most Likely to Brighten Your Day" by his Bay City Western High School Senior Classmates.

Q: How long have you been involved in Open Fields?

A: I attended Open Fields in 2015-2019, five summers. I was 13-17 years old, then COVID-19 hit in 2020.

Q: What is your favorite part of Open Fields?

A: My favorite part of the program is hanging out and doing things with the guys.  

Q: What else do you enjoy about Open Fields?

A: I enjoyed the field trips that we took on Wednesdays. We went swimming at Delta College and I went down the big slide for the first time. When I was younger, I was afraid to go down it, but seeing the other guys do it gave me confidence to try it and I really liked it.

Q: How has participating in Open Fields helped you grow?

A: I learned lots of new things like how to use the Ellison machine to turn the handle and make paper letters and other shapes for teachers' classrooms. We learned how to read their order forms and make the right amount of everything. We worked together as a team and it was fun. 

Q: What do you wish people knew about these summer programs?

A: I wish people knew that we went out to lunch once a week and I learned how to choose my food and pay with my own money. But the best part was making new friends. We also volunteered at the (Bay City) State Park pulling weeds, cleaning bird cages, and sweeping pavilions. It was great to work together and make a difference in our community. And I learned how to fish.

Q: If the summer programs didn't exist, what do you think you'd be doing this summer?

A: I would mostly be playing video games and watching TV. I would swim in our pool a little, but would not be spending much time with my day camp buddies.
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Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at editor@RouteBayCity.com