Charles Co. summer camp offers chronically ill kids, those with disabilities an ’empowering experience’

The Camp Accomplish open house was held on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Courtesy Melwood)
The Camp Accomplish open house was held on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Courtesy Melwood)
The Camp Accomplish open house was held on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Courtesy Melwood)
The Camp Accomplish open house was held on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Courtesy Melwood)
The Camp Accomplish open house was held on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Courtesy Melwood)

For more than 30 years, a summer camp in Charles County, Maryland, has catered to families of children with disabilities. Now, a new partnership with Children’s National will allow them to offer kids with chronic diseases the opportunity to go hiking, practice archery and participate in other fun summertime activities.

Camp Accomplish has been around for over 30 years to provide overnight and day camps for children with disabilities, but the partnership with Children’s National allows the camp’s focus to expand.

“We have people from so many different medical specialties, supporting campers with things like epilepsy, autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, diabetes, congenital heart disease, neurofibromatosis, sickle cell disease,” said Dr. John Schreiber, a pediatric neurologist at Children’s National and medical director at Camp Accomplish.

Without qualified medical staff, many of those kids wouldn’t be able to get the traditional summer camp experience.

“Our partners at Children’s National are able to come in and really speak to campers with their specific conditions about how they can live with those conditions,” said Lulu Moeller, the new director of Melwood Recreation Center and Youth Services.

The newly renovated Camp Accomplish in Nanjemoy, Maryland, had a ribbon cutting and open house Saturday to meet with families that will be sending their kids there for fun activities all summer long.

One unique feature of the camp is that it also caters to children that do not have any disabilities or chronic illnesses.

“Families who have children with and without disabilities don’t have to send their kids to two different camps,” Moeller told WTOP. “Every child can come to Camp Accomplish and have that same enriching, empowering experience.”

Families can opt for weeklong overnight camps or day camps where kids will participate in archery, canoeing, kayaking, ropes courses, equestrian and nature activities, sports, arts and crafts, STEM activities and more.

“We’ve got some cool horticulture things where campers can learn to grow different things and also get those things out of the garden and go cook them in our cooking classes,” Moeller said.

Melwood is a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities get job placements through career training. They also bring career development opportunities for campers.

Moeller said staff will design specific activities based on the campers’ interests.

“Maybe this camper wants to work on their leadership skills. Maybe this one wants to work on communication skills, all kinds of things that can help them personally, as just human beings,” Moeller said.

Schreiber said this is also a unique experience for staff members who often have to rely on connecting with patients only in hospital settings.

“It lets us understand more about who they are as a person, what they like, what makes them tick,” Schreiber said. “We’re helping them experience something that they wouldn’t otherwise get to experience without having the support of that medical staff.”

He also said it is invaluable to their mental health because campers with chronic disease and disabilities will develop more autonomy, independence and resilience.

“They realize that they’re tough and they can do things,” he said.

The first overnight campers will arrive at Camp Accomplish on June 23. Moeller told WTOP there are still a few spots left.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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