Columbia Lighthouse Spotlight: Jennifer and Lily, Camper-Counselor Team

CLB: How did you get involved with CLB?

Jennifer:  I found out about CLB when I first moved up to MD and was working on getting my daughter set up with vision services.  We got added onto the email list and then started participating in events like: swim lessons, camp lighthouse, the braille rallye, beeping egg hunt and the holiday party.  CLB really has a lot of great outreach programs for children who are blind/visually impaired.

CLB: How long have you been volunteering at Camp Lighthouse?

Jennifer: What has this volunteer experience meant to you? This summer is my 4thsummer as a volunteer camp counselor at Camp Lighthouse.  I have really enjoyed my time volunteering at Camp Lighthouse.  I love watching the campers build friendships and confidence throughout the week.  Seeing the campers that return year after year and continue their friendships with the campers they haven’t seen since the previous summer, and watching them make new friendships and welcome new campers.  Watching the older campers volunteer to help the younger campers with crafts or on the playground.  As a parent of a child with a visual impairment, the most heartwarming part of camp is watching my daughter be able to talk about her everyday life and the things that are hard for her, with other kids who get it.  These other campers know what my daughter goes through and they have similar experiences that they share and bond over.  The other campers can relate to my daughter and understand things that, as a sighted person, I haven’t experienced and can’t understand in the same way.

CLB: What are some of Lily’s favorite moments from Camp Lighthouse?

Jennifer:First I would have to say that Camp Lighthouse is Lily’s favorite summer camp and the one that she does not want to miss, no matter what, every year.  This summer will be Lily’s 6thyear at Camp Lighthouse.  Lily loves pretty much everything about camp.  Some of her favorite things are: swimming time, playground time, crafts, snacks, and most of all the end of camp talent show.  I’m not sure if I can remember all of the things Lily has done for the end of camp talent show.  I know a couple years was a song and dance, then there was the puppet show, and last year there was a descriptive art show.  Lily started thinking about the talent show before school even got out this year.  She loves Camp Lighthouse and is so excited that they created the CIT program so that once she ages out of the camp she can still return as a Counselor in Training and later a Counselor.  Camp has been a wonderful experience for her and I’m so grateful for this program.

CLB: How has CLB impacted the life of your family?

Jennifer: CLB has been wonderful.  I can’t even say enough good things.  First there was the swim lessons, which I know they don’t have anymore, but meant so much to me and Lily.  I tried mommy and me lessons, group lessons, private lessons and did not want to give up on my daughter learning to swim, when I heard about the CLB swim lessons.  I drove an hour each way to get to these lessons and the instructors were so kind and patient with my daughter that she made huge strides in learning to swim and that was what she needed to have that breakthrough.  Then there was the beeping egg hunt.  I can’t even recall how many tears and tantrums we had over regular egg hunts.  And then we found out about the beeping egg hunt and again I drove an hour each way to get there but Lily loved it.  And her first year going she won the golden egg and couldn’t have been more excited. We still go every year and she loves it. Then there is the Braille Rallye. I wasn’t really sure about this event. I didn’t know a lot about it but I heard from another parent how much fun the kids have and decided to check it out. This is definitely a great event and Lily has a shelf full of trophies that she absolutely adores that are from the Braille Rallye.  I’m not sure we will make it this year due to vacation plans but this is a great event and lots of fun for kids.  CLB has been supportive of my family’s needs.  They have helped us with O&M training, IPAD training, support with IEP’s, obtaining equipment we couldn’t get through other means, and all the fun events they have for children.  I appreciate everything that CLB has done for my daughter and I like being able to volunteer my time at Camp Lighthouse every year so that I can give a little bit back.