What would it be like to scale a mountain if you were deaf and blind? Or, bungee jump or even ride a motorcycle? As Reed Galin reports, there’s a special camp in Maryland where deaf and blind adults can have these rare experiences, and live without limits, for at least one week.
(Locator: West River, Maryland)
Scaling a 30-foot wall would be a challenge for anyone.
Nat: Straining to get up wall
It’s an even bigger challenge for someone who’s deaf and blind. But challenges also bring rewards.
William Suggs/Baltimore, MD: “It felt like I was at the top of the world.”
William Suggs is one of 40 deaf and blind adults at a United Methodist church camp near Baltimore. 100 volunteers are their eyes and ears.
Nat: Motorcycle revving engine
The campers can take a motorcycle ride...
John Holcomb/Bensalem, PA: “It’s great - you get the smell of the gas, you get the feel of the engine, you get to smell the flowers if you’re passing those.”
Nat: Waves splashing
...or a boat trip.
Harold Hayes/Knoxville, TN: “I can feel the waves of the water and the sun shining down. It feels really good.”
A real test of faith is a 50-foot fall on a giant swing.
Kim Powers-Smith/Austin, TX: “I was flying! And it was just such a challenge, much more speeding than skydiving.”
The camp tries to end the isolation of silence and darkness.
The Rev. Peggy Johnson/Pastor, Christ UMC of the Deaf: “So often in the world they live in, they’re a number or a customer or a client of some service provider. But here, they’re just a person where we love them for who they are.”
Aniko Kuschatka/Walla Walla, WA: “It’s almost like freeing yourself to really be who you are.”
For Angela Howell, the camp was a chance to swim with her four-year-old son. And for one week at least, to live without limits.
Angela Howell/Waldorf, MD: “In the outside world, a lot of people aren’t as accepted. So here, you know, everybody just likes me for who I am. Nobody really stares at me or think I shouldn’t be doing that.”
The youngest campers are in their early 20s and the oldest is 75. Many of them have Usher Syndrome. That’s an incurable, genetic disease that affects about four out of every 100,000 babies born in the U.S.
For more information on the camp contact: The Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church at www.bwcumc.org/camping.
Also see: Church provides summer camp experience for blind, deaf adults.