Main menu


Saratoga Spring Camp Supports Sports for Blind Children – The Daily Gazette

featured image

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Camp Abilities is back in person after two years of hosting virtual sports camps.

Camp Abilities is a summer sports camp for visually impaired children and teens ages 10-16. Camp Abilities is a service project of the Saratoga Springs Lions Club that began in 2014. This year, 12 campers have joined his week-long camp at Skidmore College.

“The whole idea is to focus on their self-esteem and confidence and things like that,” said John McDonald, a board member of Camp Abilities. We spend the week there, and for many of the kids, it’s their first time on campus and their first time away from home without their parents.”

Campers participate in a variety of sports throughout the week. McDonald said Monday’s campers played kickball, practiced judo and swam. Campers also participate in track, tandem bikes, and other team sports.

“All sports are adaptive sports and can compensate for visual impairments,” McDonald said. “So when they play kickball, the bases beep and the ball beeps. If you pick it up before the runner reaches the base, you’re out.”

There is no cost for campers to participate, McDonald said. He said grants, donations and fundraisers cover the costs of the camp.

“It’s great to give these kids the opportunity to participate in sports and develop something like a sport that lasts a lifetime,” said McDonald. sport, they can always ride their bikes, they can always put on their skates, what we really want to do is give these campers the opportunity to appreciate the opportunities that exist for everyone to give.”

The camp was recently recognized by Lions Clubs International with the Service of Kindness Award, which recognizes Lions clubs for high-impact service projects. McDonald said it was one of only five awards given in the United States and one of only 30 awards internationally.

Camp Director Tiffany Suppes has been with the camp since the beginning.

“This is our ninth year, and after the last two years of being virtual, it’s really great to see kids coming back and being able to participate in physical activity again,” Suppes said. “Our children are typically the only visually impaired children in the school district and are very isolated.”

For the last two years, the camp has been virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suppes explained that the camp sent lots of equipment to campers so that those who needed them could use iPads to join his Zoom. She said that the camp, which was held virtually, featured more individual activities such as yoga and less team sports.

Sappes said some campers had never met another blind person before coming to camp. She said it was great to be able to make her friends and connections.

“Performing physical activity can be difficult if it is not properly adapted or if proper modification is not accessible,” Suppes said. “So what we’re teaching them here is that they can do so many different activities and sports.”

Camps also teach participants how to advocate for themselves, as well as how campers can carry out these activities in their community homes, Suppes said. She said this would help them stay physically active all year round.

“By organizing camps like Camp Abilities, visually impaired children can make friends, socialize, learn how to grow, advocate for themselves, and truly enjoy sports and activities. You can go out after camp with confidence,” Sappes said.

On Tuesday, campers took the bus to the Saratoga Springs Ice Rink for a morning of ice skating. Some campers sought help from walkers and camp counselors while skating, while others needed no help at all and were skating quickly around the rink. McDonald explained that when blind people play hockey, they use a large puck with ball bearings inside that make a noise when hitting around the ice.

“I get to meet all these people and play all these sports,” said camper Ted Carl, 12. “You get to make new friends who really understand your craft, unlike school. We talked about the stories and situations we encountered.I love coming here and I really enjoy it.”

14-year-old camper twins Scout and Sabby Dowd said they love coming to camp. It’s fun to do different activities and be with different people. Monday was the day they played kickball for the first time. This is their first year at Camp Abilities, they said.

“There are some first-time activities,” said Saby Dowd. “And there are people like us, so that’s good. We like it.”

Details of The Daily Gazette:

Categories: Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs