Campers Learn Many Things at Youth Camp

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In addition to making new friends and participating in activities such as swimming, basketball, and archery, campers like Daniel Carroll II learn many things while attending the Amputee Coalition's Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp, held annually in Clarksville, Ohio. They can learn to tie their shoes one-handed, for instance.

Daniel Carroll II "graduated" from attendee to leader-in-training this year. Photograph courtesy of the Amputee Coalition

Carroll lost his right arm in an automobile accident seven years ago. He was nine years old at the time and a "little bummed out," when he learned that his arm had to be amputated. That same year, his mother discovered the Youth Camp and Carroll attended his first one.

"I haven't left since," says Carroll, a junior at C.D. Hylton High School, Woodbridge, Virginia.

This year, more than $180,000 was raised to send 102 children ages 10 to 17 to the Amputee Coalition's Youth Camp, held July 23-27. All of the campers live with limb loss or limb difference. Their expenses and airfare are paid via donations made to the Amputee Coalition. The camp inspires them to take on new challenges, be independent, test themselves, and build new friendships.

"The camp experience is a life-changing event for these children," said Marshall J. Cohen, chairman of the Amputee Coalition's board of directors. "We thank our industry partners, individual donors, and our many volunteers who have given their time and money so graciously."

Carroll was granted a scholarship to attend the Youth Camp as a leader-in-training this year. "I like the environment. We help each other out," he said.

Camp is just one thing that keeps Carroll, who doesn't wear a prosthesis because it is "hot, heavy, and hard to control," busy. He recently auditioned for a new Saturday morning ABC television show for teens, is in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) as a troop guide, and has attended leadership training at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He has also started his own nonprofit website, limbsforfitness.yolasite.com

Like Carroll, Sunny Chism, a 17-year-old from Buna, Texas, attended the Youth Camp on a scholarship as a leader-in-training. Chism lost her left arm in an ATV accident three years ago. She hasn't let that slow her down. The Youth Camp is a place where the Buna High School senior said she comes to spend time with other amputees.

"There's a lot to experience," said Chism, who, like Carroll, doesn't wear a prosthesis. "I am not self-conscious," she said.

Chism is also well on the road to becoming an advocate for people with limb loss and limb difference. She has been a spokesperson for the Limbs of Love foundation and helped to successfully lobby Texas lawmakers into passing prosthetic fairness legislation in the state.

"Sunny is an idealist," said her mother, Melanie. "She has an insatiable need to make the world a better place."

For the second year in a row, actress Bianca Kajlich, of CBS' Rules of Engagement, offered a performing arts program during the Youth Camp. She instructed campers in an acting class and was a camp counselor. Kajlich's brother Andre, who had both legs amputated following a train accident in Prague, also attended as a camp counselor. Soccer clinics were given by World Cup soccer competitor Landon Donovan, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Next year's Amputee Coalition Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp will be held July 21-25.