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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Dyberry Day Camp: a summer highlight

  •  “This is my favorite part about my whole summer. Did I tell you that?”

    A longtime camper at Dyberry Day Camp, Pauly Lefferts, 20, looks forward to camp Monday through Friday. His biggest hobby is music. In a voice that would rival any on the radio, Paul sings a song he’s written himself.


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  •  “This is my favorite part about my whole summer. Did I tell you that?”
    A longtime camper at Dyberry Day Camp, Pauly Lefferts, 20, looks forward to camp Monday through Friday. His biggest hobby is music. In a voice that would rival any on the radio, Paul sings a song he’s written himself.
    When it comes to camp, he’s all about hanging with his friends, playing basketball, swimming, and working on his music.
    Sponsored by ARC of Wayne County, Dyberry Day Camp is now in its 37th year. With 55 campers this season, camp offers recreation and activities to kids in the community who are physically and mentally challenged. “It’s a little oasis of paradise for the month of July for these campers,” says Bette Ann Baerenklau, camp co-director.
    Open to children ages five through 21, camp runs 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays. It offers arts and crafts, along with physical activities, such as swimming at the Honesdale Borough Pool, basketball, kickball, and more. Various visitors stop by to spend time with the campers, including volunteers from Texas #4 Fire Department, the Silouette Twirlers, Smokey the Bear, and Jo-Jo the Clown.
    Dan Nalesnik has been a counselor at Dyberry Day Camp eight years total. He started as a teenager. “When I first started, I was really trying to decide if I wanted to go into education, special education in particular. There’s no better hands-on experience when you are in high school, then to come and work at the camp and get to know the kids and let them teach you,” he said. Nalesnik works in the Wallenpaupack School District in special education.
    “As a teenager, I would say I was your typical teenager. And was very much in belief that the world revolved around me. And I think this was a good way to find out that there’s a whole lot else out there. And that you can do a lot more being selfless than you can being selfish,” Nalesnik said.
    “Every single person here is an individual. You talk about it as Dyberry Day Camp for children with disabilities. And the important thing to remember is that they are children first. And the disability is secondary to that ...Everyone is unique, regardless of disability,” he said.    
    When it comes to camp, Nalesnik says, “You like what you come in and you’re doing everyday. And you feel appreciated. And, there’s certain things that you can’t put a price tag on or a salary on. And this is one of them. It’s just something that you really enjoy and the kids just return that enjoyment with you.”
    “I look forward to camp every year. You watch kids grow up,” says Mike Motsko of Honesdale, a special education substitute in the Wayne Highlands School District. Motsko has worked at the Camp for 13 years. “I find it very rewarding. It’s a great feeling at the end of the day,” he says.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s kind of been my life’s work, sharing with people with various disabilities,” he said. His brother has cerebral palsy and is mentally challenged. “He’s a very happy fellow, happy go lucky, nothing really bothers him. He just enjoys life,” he says. His brother had much to do with his life’s decisions and the work he’s chosen. “I think I feel I have a great understanding of people with various disabilities,” he said.
    A camp counselor at Dyberry Day Camp the past four years, Heather Martin of Honesdale, 20, says she reserves the month of July on her calendar so she can be at camp. “It’s fun. And the kids, when they come off the van every morning, just the smile on their face to be at camp, is rewarding,” she said.
    She loves the kids at camp. “I’ve been actually working with John and Chase, two boys at camp, for four years now ...They bring me back every year,” she says. Their personalities are hard to resist, she says. “They just love playing. And they’re always happy. They love to have fun,” Martin says.
    “I look forward to it all year. When it’s over, it’s like, ‘Oh, it went by so fast.’ And you can’t wait till next July, just to see them again,” said Martin. 
    It costs about $850 per camper, but kids don’t pay to attend. Monies are raised through the ARC Bike Hike, from private donations and a contribution from MHMR.
             
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