Urging for increase in camp age limit

Alycia Douglass
Urging for increase in camp age limit
Katie Mosher-Nicholls at Easter Seals Camp Merrywood in Perth.

SOUTH STORMONT, Ontario – Long Sault resident, Katie Mosher-Nicholls recently started a petition to raise or abolish the age limit at Easter Seals Camp Merrywood in Perth.

Mosher-Nicholls has been attending the camp for two decades, and will not have the opportunity to return this year.

The camp is fully accessible and caters to children with disabilities. Mosher-Nicholls who was born with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy says that it’s the only place she’s able to be independent of her parents.

“I’ve been going since I was six years old. A lot of the same girls go, and it’s the one time I get to spend time with them in person,” said Mosher-Nicholls. “It’s the only place that has the equipment and medical staff and high ratio of staff to campers.”

Easter Seals Ontario Communications Director, Meredith Wiens says that the age limit has been put in place for a reason.

“A number of years ago Easter Seals implemented a camp program (GEAR UP) for a limited number over age campers (19 – 26),” said Wiens. “It is not appropriate or responsible to extend the age limit of campers as it will be too great of an age gap between the younger campers and the older campers.”

Wiens says the GEAR UP program was implemented to help young adults transition out of the camping program, and has proven difficult for some young adults to move on once they reach the upper age limit of our camp program.

“We’re happy so many young people enjoy our camp programs and we hope they find other recreation programs as adults they enjoy as much,” said Wiens.

While many campers know that their 26th year will inevitably be their last, Mosher-Nicholls says that nothing prepares them for their last day of camp.

“It happens to all of us,” said Mosher-Nicholls. “The letdown, sadness, loss of our second home.”

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