By Alan Sorensen
They shot arrows at mannequin heads, put their counselors in the stocks, smacked line drives and ran the bases, attended a sock hop, watched a sword fight, traveled in a makeshift time machine and went back in time to a drive-in movie.
They are the 50 or so kids ages 6 to 21 suffering from muscular dystrophy who made the trip to Beaver Creek Park and the MDA Camp at Camp Kiwanis in the Bear Paw Mountains south of Havre.
They arrived with their parents or in a bus that traveled the state picking them up for the trek to Havre. Most rolled into camp Thursday evening.
Saturday morning was a time for everyone to pursue what interested them. For many, that meant playing in or watching a game of plastic softball. For others, it meant time alone or with a buddy to tour the compound. Still others were in Beaver Lodge on the hill overlooking the camp playing chess or getting acquainted with the Hula Hoop.
Whatever they were doing, it was in keeping with this year's theme, "Wheelin' Through the Years."
Visitors were welcome to the VIP Day activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday for an enchilada feed and some fun activities from the '50s. At the same time, a troupe of medieval players from around the state were on hand to put on exhibitions in traditional jousting garb. Even state MDA program service coordinator Eva Havens of Billings dressed up in "m'lady's finest garb."
Liz Kampa, MDA district director from Billings, was among those who monitored the activities and helped everyone have an enjoyable time. She explained that the television crew on site was putting together a collection of camp memories for presentation during the Jerry Lewis Telethon.
This is just the third year since the camp moved from Seeley Lake to Beaver Creek Park. The first year, the weather didn't cooperate as the rains came and Beaver Creek overran its banks. Most of the bridges in the park were washed out or at least damaged and the kids were confined the indoors for most of the week. Last year the weather was a little more cooperative, and this year is downright pleasant.
Saturday night, the campers were set to stroll or drive their wheelchairs to the west side of the Beaver Lodge hill to watch a movie. The outdoor movie was scheduled for about 10 p.m., Kampa said. The movie was to be projected onto a large screen on the side of the hill so the kids could enjoy the 1950s and '60s experience of attending a drive-in movie complete with popcorn and other treats.
Many of the camp counselors, who spend nearly 24 hours a day for the entire week with their campers, are in their teens themselves. Others, however, are adults and some are firefighters from around the state.
Two firefighters who are counselors to two best friends are Josh Macrow of the Missoula City Fire Department and Al Forsman of the Havre Fire and Ambulance Department. Forsman's camper is Bo Olsen, 9, and Macrow is counselor to Josh Bowser, 11. Both boys are from Helena and acquired new, hopped up wheelchairs just weeks before coming to camp.
Forsman said Olsen was upset Saturday morning because he had been told to lower the juice in his wheelchair and to slow down. As a result, Olsen and Bowser went their own way, exploring the depths of caragana bushes on the west end of the campgrounds. Bowser browsed while Olsen dined on the caragana peas he scraped from the bushes' tiny pods.
After noticing the stocks set up by the medieval troupe, the boys had their counselors installed in the wrist and head holes and then stood guard with one of the troupe's swords.
The campers will spend another couple of days enjoying themselves in the mountains before heading home on Wednesday.