Independence Found at Easterseals Camp Fairlee

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John Suggs is counting down the days until his 12-day adventure at Easterseals Camp Fairlee, and it is not hard to see why. For John, who is visually impaired and has Cerebral Palsy, camp means independence, new experiences, and friendship. For his parents, Lisa Dornell and Robert Suggs, it means a break from caregiving.

“Camp is a blessing to John and our family. John is an extrovert and needs a break from us too. It is nice for him to live in an environment that is not his own home,” Lisa says. “When John comes back from Camp Fairlee, he is more independent. The skills he learns there translate when he comes home.”

While campers rely on Camp Fairlee for adventure and independence, parents/caregivers depend on Camp Fairlee for high quality, professional services for their loved one so they can also rest and recharge from daily caregiving. Each year camp counselors receive intensive training to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the campers.

“’Camp staff gave us the comfort we needed to know he is in good hands and would have fun,” Lisa says. “The staff is committed and connected.”

While John is at Camp Fairlee soaring on the zipline, riding horses, dancing and making friends, Lisa and Robert are able to take time doing things they enjoy, like the Contemporary American Theater Festival. “We can focus on each other without the worry of caring for John and his needs,” Lisa says. “Caring for children with disabilities is a lot of work. Camp gives us some respite. Camp is manna from heaven!”

Easterseals Camp Fairlee has plans to re-design their pool and bathhouse by summer 2025. The new pool will provide additional safety and accessibility features such as 4 feet depth, zero entry ramp, chair lift & nonslip protective surface coating for all access areas. The new bathhouse will incorporate a shaded area for fragile campers. Easterseals is depending on State & Community Partners to secure funding for this important and necessary financial investment.

“We appreciate people in the community who are invested in Camp Fairlee. The Camp renovations help camp to be more accessible. They make the stay better and safer for John,” Lisa says. “Families appreciate the kindness and generosity that allow campers to enjoy camp. We are so grateful.”

Celebrating 70 years of service, Easterseals Camp Fairlee, outside of Chestertown, Maryland, is one of the only camps in the region that provides a typical residential camp experience for children and adults with disabilities. Fairlee offers week-long camp sessions throughout the summer, Learn more about Camp Fairlee services at www.campfairlee.com.

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