By Alan Sorensen
A week at Beaver Creek comes to an end early tomorrow morning for 44 Montana and Wyoming children and young adults 6-21 suffering from Muscular Dystrophy.
This was the second year the camp was held in the Bear Paw Mountains just south of Havre, after being held for many years at Seeley Lake.
Eva Havens, program service coordinator for the state of Montana MDA, also of Billings, stayed busy throughout the week, but was never too busy to talk with visitors to the camp.
Havens said she was pleased with recent improvements to the camp that make the camp more accessible to her campers, many of whom are wheelchair bound.
Havre Firefighters Local No. 601 spearheaded improvements to Kiwanis Camp a couple of years ago after arranging for the MDA camp to move here. Even more improvements are needed before next years camp.
The firefighters are in need of donations to further increase handicapped accessibility at the camp, said Al Forsman, president of firefighters local NO. 601. More pathways to and concrete around the shower house are needed.
Campers diagnosed with any of the 40 neuromuscular diseases covered by Muscular Dystrophy Association began sharing a week of Under the Sea activities from the moment they arrived at Kiwanis Camp in Beaver Creek Paw last Thursday evening. Upon checking in and getting acquainted, the campers and their counselors say down to as seaside feast of swordfish and lobster. The delicacies were donated by Red Lobster of Billings.
That first night, young campers retired to their cabins at about 10 p.m., and the older campers and counselors turned in at about 11 p.m.
Lights out the rest of the week was set for 10 p.m. Each morning began with breakfast, buried treasure clues, and cabin clean up. They had crafts time each day, too.
On Friday, campers played their first baseball games of the week and then romped around inside an inflatable whale constructed by Great Falls gifted and talented fifth-graders. The whale, when inflated by a common household block fan, nearly filled the camp pavilion.
They played baseball each consecutive day with the championships slated for this morning from 9:30 to 11.
Friday evening, campers went horseback riding, courtesy of the Hi-Line Therapeutic Riding Association and then held their first dance, Lost City of Atlantis Dance.
Saturdays highlights included a carnival, movies and campfire singing. On Sunday, campers took canoe rides on Bear Paw (second) Lake with members of a Great Falls rafting association. Their evening meal was followed by a lip sync and then a campfire pit.
Former New York Yankee pitcher Steve Howe, scheduled to appear for Monday mornings baseball games, was a no-show.
Other Monday highlights included presentations by Robin Stevenson, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Chief Barbara Davis of the Naval Reserve. The luau dinner a barbecued pig donated by Murdy and Denise Rismon of Havre and butchered at no cost by Chinook Meats was followed by luau festivities on the grounds.
Before this evenings family meal, the campers will conduct their treasure hunt. Closing ceremonies follow the dinner and campers will head for their homes throughout Montana and Wyoming.
So what activities did the campers enjoy the most this year?
They love all the activities: baseball, dances, seminars, lip sync contests, etc., said Liz Kampa, MDA district director from Billings. The food was great!
The weather is much better this year than last year when floods were washing out bridges and roads.
Brian Talseth, a camper from Helena, is attending his eighth MDA camp, the first six at Seeley Lake. Though he liked the old camp better, he finds plenty to enjoy at Camp Kiwanis.
I get to hang out and meet new people, Talseth said. His favorite things as of Monday afternoon? Dancing, the enchiladas.
Havens said she is looking forward to seeing further improvements planned for next years camp.