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Camp Hashawha In Carroll County Welcomes Back Campers, Counselors & Staff

CARROLL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) -- When you're a kid, nothing says summer like a trip to overnight camp. Last year, COVID made it impossible for children to gather but this year many camps are finding a way to adapt to new protocols.

"Camp Opportunity" has been around for almost four decades and organizers said they were determined to find a way to welcome back campers.

Campers, counselors and staff are ready for a week of fun at Carroll County's Camp Hashawha.

Things are different this year because of covid -- instead of the usual 64 campers, only 22 can be safely socially distanced.

"We had to make sure we're wearing these masks all the time and to make sure everybody is staying in a cohort which is basically the group of people that is sleeping together," said Darlene Waldt, Program Director.

For 36 years 'Camp Opportunity' has welcomed camp children who've experienced abuse or neglect. Last year it had to be virtual, but not this year.

"We just feel that them being in person is so important to get them out here in nature and having a great time with some friends and getting to be kids," said Waldt.

Each camper between the ages of eight and 12, gets their very own counselor. The two share literally every moment of the week.

Twenty-two-year-old Brandon Whims has volunteered as a counselor for four years. He said he and his camper got very close.

"It's an unbreakable bond at this point and I still talk to him after he's graduated and moved on from the camp," said Whims.

"That was another thing why I really wanted to come here because I loved the individualized approach that they take here. You know? every kid feels special," said Samantha Heald, volunteer.

This is 20-year-old Samantha's Fifth year volunteering as a counselor. The campers come from as far away as Cumberland and the Eastern Shore. Social Services helps identify children who can use a week of fun and support.

"We're here to give them all of that. That positive reinforcement and just showing them how awesome and wonderful they are," said Waldt.

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