Karissa Fritz and Cameron Campbell typically spend their days engaging with customers and collaborating with other members of our success team, but on July 9 and 10 they traded in their headsets for life jackets and headed to Lake Harner in Lafayette to volunteer at Camp WACK.
Camp WACK, or Water Adventure Camp for Kids, is an adaptive water-skiing day camp that caters to children with physical or mental disabilities, including Down’s Syndrome, Autism, and Cerebral Palsy. Its mission is to give children who may not be able to join typical community programs the chance to gain confidence, independence, and self-reliance through sports and recreation, all while creating happy summer memories with friends and family.
“There is specially prepared equipment that gives campers the ability to play and engage in ways they otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” Karissa explains. The adaptive skis are designed for the skier to stay seated, which accommodates those with spinal cord issues or balance issues. Cages are fastened to the top to ensure the skier stays safe and secure in the seated position. These skis look different than what you typically see, but the thrill of flying through the open water remains just the same.
This year, Karissa and Cameron’s main responsibility as volunteers was to prepare the equipment and help the campers get ready to take off. Once the campers are secure, it’s time for them to glide through the water, guided on their adventure by a captain – another big-hearted volunteer.
The camp sees an average of 25 campers each day, some even travel from out-of-state to experience the fun and thrill. Water-skiing is the main event, but Camp WACK’s fun is not limited to just that; there are a variety of activities available on-shore to keep campers busy all day, from crafts, to fishing, and even water games – there are plenty of opportunities for socializing and making new lifelong friends.
Passageways is no stranger to the camp; in 2016, we donated $2,500 to the camp, which was allocated to a set of adaptive skis. Our Pledge 1% program and volunteer time off policy have made it possible for Karissa to volunteer at Camp WACK for five years in a row, and for Cameron to join her as a volunteer this year.
“Each year gets better and better,” Karissa reflected. “The fact that I can make such an impact on these kids’ lives is beyond rewarding.”
While Cameron and Karissa’s volunteer duties were focused on preparing the skis, there are a wide range of activities that volunteers are needed for. Volunteers are needed to help plan and execute the event, set up and clean up, and drive the boats that pull the skis. Many volunteers are life guard trained, CPR certified, and safety certified, and many health care providers attend as well.
“All of our volunteers are invaluable,” Camp WACK’s website says. “They encourage campers to try new things, initiate friendly exchanges, problem solve the fit of skis, bait fishing lines, all while shouting for joy with each new camper.”