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MDA's Annual Summer Camp for Children with Neuromuscular Diseases Launches Virtually for 65th Session

NEW YORK, June 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) today announced its annual summer camp, which services more 3,000 children ages 8 to 17 living with neuromuscular diseases, will be held virtually in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Open at no cost to families, MDA's virtual Summer Camp will include accessible activities, themed programming, virtual connections with fellow campers and more.

Registration is now open for the Muscular Dystrophy Association Virtual Summer Camp for children ages 8-17 at no cost to families - Adventure Awaits!
Registration is now open for the Muscular Dystrophy Association Virtual Summer Camp for children ages 8-17 at no cost to families - Adventure Awaits!

"Summer camp is a time when children develop critical skills that build their confidence to take on challenges throughout their lives. We believe that even virtually our children can continue to grow and learn," said Jennifer Allebach, SVP of Recreation, Camp and Community Programs. "Typically, this is a time of year when thousands of MDA campers pack their bags and head to a week of fun and adventure in the great outdoors. While we're not able to join together in-person this year for the safety of our campers, we have the same goal: to provide a summer camp experience for children and young adults with neuromuscular disease."

MDA families can now register for MDA Virtual Explorers, Adventure Awaits— an online program that will bring the magic of MDA summer camp to campers across the country. This program will be a way for children to have new experiences and stay connected while traditional summer camp is on hiatus due to the pandemic. Siblings are also welcomed to join them. For most activities, campers and families will select the best time for them to participate on demand.

Camp will be offered to children ages 8-17 in one-week sessions (Monday-Thursday), beginning the week of June 22 through the week of July 27. Families will select the week of their choice when registering their children.

Campers and volunteers from the 2019 MDA Summer Camp season will have the opportunity to reunite and reconnect with their specific camp communities later this summer during Camp Connections.

Camp programming will include daily themes like Safari; Trailblazers; Stargazers; and World Travelers. Activities will include art projects, scavenger hunts, a virtual escape room, STEM projects and more.

There will also be Signature programs for campers.

  • My Powerful Story: Campers will participate in creating an online repository of stories of diagnosis, advocacy, camp and life from the neuromuscular disease community. Some stories will be told through video animation.
  • Open Style Lab with Christina Mallon: Open Style Lab (OSL) is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to creating functional wearable solutions for people of all abilities without compromising on style. They will team their designers, engineers, and occupational therapists with a group of campers to conceive and build accessible wearables that address the needs of people with disabilities.
  • How to Solve a Problem like a Firefighter—The Escape Room: This virtual activity will give every camper the opportunity to learn problem solving skills a s they unearth clues and answer questions that will allow them to "escape" from a firehouse common room. This virtual activity was developed in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).
  • Street Art with Lonnie Lardner: MDA is proud to partner with Lonnie Lardner to provide a virtual street art program to inspire our campers to connect with their creative spirits and encourage their self-exploration through the medium of painting.
  • MDA Let's Play: Campers will be invited to participate in MDA's weekly family gaming nights where they can interact with other gamers, build networks, gain independence and experience joy connecting with friends online.

"MDA is committed to provided ongoing care for families through the pandemic. We weren't going to let COVID-19 stop us from continuing to bring our camp community together – from the campers to the volunteers and our dedicated medical staff and sponsors like the IAFF, Harley-Davidson and CITGO to name a few," said Lynn O'Connor Vos, President and CEO of MDA. "We needed to continue to have camp this summer to keep this community connected and the progress these children have made moving forward."

"I love MDA summer camp, and I'm glad it's still happening, so I can still get together with all my camp friends," said MDA's National Ambassador Ethan LyBrand. "At camp, I always learn new things and meet other kids just like me – and now my sister gets to join in the fun."

The success of MDA summer camp is driven by the invaluable national and local corporate partners that support MDA research, health care services, advocacy and education programs, including International Association of Fire Fighters, CITGO Petroleum Corporation and Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) is a proud supporter of MDA Summer camp.

"I was pleased to partner with MDA to develop the new virtual camp activity 'How to Solve a Problem like a Firefighter—The Escape Room' and to actually be a part of the experience via video. Problem solving skills are critical in life and this activity will be both fun and educational," says Roger Lopez, MDA liaison for IAFF. "As a long-time supporter of MDA and as an MDA camp counselor, I am dedicated to making sure that MDA campers have the very best experience possible."

CITGO Petroleum Corporation Brings STEM Programming to MDA Summer Camp

"As part of our 34-year commitment to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, CITGO is excited to bring STEM programming to MDA's first ever 'virtual' Summer Camp for children living with muscular dystrophy," said CITGO Vice President Supply & Marketing Karl Schmidt, "and our goal is to share this excitement with the campers. We recognize that STEM education plays a key role in the sustained growth of our industry, as we see its value every day throughout our operations. It's our sincere privilege and honor to expose these amazing kids to new STEM educational opportunities."

SOURCE: Muscular Dystrophy Association