As we celebrate Camp T’s 50th anniversary, we are sharing fun camp memories from past and present campers, volunteers, and staff. This story comes from Camp Assistant Leanne Merren.
Leanne’s first experience at Camp T was as a camper in 1991 and 1992, before she became a camp counselor in 1996. For three summers, Leanne cared for campers of all ages, leading them through activities such as swimming, boating, archery, arts and crafts, sports and recreation, and songs and s’mores around the campfire.
“As a camper, I enjoyed being with others who were also Blind and Visually Impaired. I felt like we had a lot in common and could help each other through challenges we were facing in life,” she says. “I found opportunities to be a leader, which I really enjoyed, so when the opportunity came to be a counselor, I applied right away. I was fortunate to receive the call that I had been hired. Being a counselor at camp prepared me for a lot of things in life, such as living and traveling independently, working as part of a team, making important decisions, and being responsible for others.”
As a full-time camp assistant, Leanne is thrilled to be working with campers again, helping them explore the woods and learn about the world around them.
“Camp T is unlike any other camp I’ve ever attended,” she says. “I love walking through the woods, hearing birds and animals all around me, and smelling the pine trees and other foliage. It’s my happy place.”
A Memorable Game: Capture the Flag
Leanne has many fond memories of camp, but one memory stands out:
“One summer when I was a counselor, one of our evening activities during the junior high session was Capture the Flag,” she says. “We used the whole area from Thompson’s Bridge all the way out to the recreation field. One team had their home base by the bridge, and the other was in the rec field. Some of us knew the trails well and were comfortable running through the woods, finding ways to sneak up on the opposing team to try to capture their flag. Some had really good concentration and could sense when people were near, so they stayed back and guarded the flag for their team. I was one who felt comfortable sneaking through the woods, so I ran along the trails with a friend. I would follow my friend on the trails I didn’t know quite as well. We only ended up in ‘jail’ once, but in the end, my friend and I were the ones who captured the other team’s flag, which is probably why I remember it so well. It felt so freeing to move quickly through woods that I had come to know so well, playing a game that probably a lot of people think people who are Blind and Visually Impaired can’t play. I also love how we were able to use the strengths of everyone participating to make the game fun and inclusive for everyone.”