The MDA Camp counselors - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

The MDA Camp counselors

Posted:

As we approach the Annual Jerry Lewis/MDA Labor Day Telethon, we're showing you the important ways your money is spent to help people with neuro-muscular disease.  

Summer camp is a crucial service for both kids and their parents.  

Tonight, some of the volunteers who make it possible: The camp counselors.

Whether it's catching fish, playing roller hockey, or settling down to a good lunch, MDA campers do it all with their volunteer counselors.

"The only thing different from them and me is the wheelchair," counselor Stanley McDowell says.

McDowell has been a volunteer counselor at MDA Summer Camp for the past 25 years.

"The first year was tough," he says.  "You didn't realize how much work you're going to have to do; you don't realize how much work the parents do everyday.  You didn't realize you were also going to become very close to these kids and these kids become very close to you."

For the past several years, Stanley has been the camp's director of sports and athletics.

This is Andrew Kopmeyer's sixth year as an MDA Summer Camp counselor.

"I'm actually cabin leader of Willow this year," Andrew says.  "I got a promotion it's pretty cool, it's fun.

Andrew is back after a year absence.   His military unit was called to duty in Iraq.

"We did route clearance, so we cleared IEDs from the road," he says.  "I was sad I didn't get to come last year, but they made the 'cool ties' for us and sent them over for my whole company.  That was a nice gift to get over there."

Andrew and his unit used those wet 'cool ties' around their necks to fight the extreme heat in Iraq.   His sister got him started as a counselor when he was 16.

"There's nothing like it (camp).  It's very rewarding to me to be able to help these kids out.  Everybody says they come back for the kids, I guess I come back for myself," Andrew says.

And, there are always a few first-year counselors.   Katy McMahon of Mt. Horeb had two brothers with Duschenes Muscular Dystrophy.   They are her inspiration for being here.

"I wanted to do it, especially for them, because I know they had a blast and I wanted to let her (camper) have that same feeling," Katy says.

It's a feeling that both counselors and campers take with them even when summer camp is over.

Whatever their inspiration for being volunteer camp counselors, the end result is the same: A bond is formed, a connection made, a relationship born.

Powered by Frankly