A Musical Garden now allows Recreation Unlimited campers to blend their music with the sounds of nature.
“It’s a therapeutic space that integrates music with nature,” said Recreation Unlimited Executive Director Paul Huttlin. “The support of Hull and Associates Memorial Charity Golf Outing and the donors of the Better Together Program of The Columbus Foundation is greatly appreciated. It is important that we continue to raise funds to create new programs to support the individuals we serve.”
Recreation Unlimited serves over 3,500 individuals with disabilities and health concerns annually through multiple camp programs on a year-round basis by providing programs in sports, outdoor recreation and education, while building an individual’s self-confidence and self-esteem by promoting positive attitudes and behaviors.
According to Huttlin, campers with autism or who have a visual impairment gain the greatest outcome from the garden through its sound, vibrations, and tactile interactions.
During the 2019 camp season on the 195-acre facility in Ashley, Recreation Unlimited will offer 15 weekend respite camps, two weekend autism camps, seven weeks of residential summer camps, five weeks of summer day camps, and multiple weekends and weeklong specialty camps serving both youth and adults.
“A lot of places stop programs after people become adults,” Huttlin said.
He added people like Tommy Noble, now thought to be 61, have been coming to the camps for many years. Huttlin said a lot of the older campers spend most of their time inside but need and enjoy the outdoor activity as much as the youth.
“Now that they’re outside, it’s really an adventure for them,” he said. “We really can’t stop at the youth. We have to continue to do things with the adults.”
In order to provide all the programs it does, Recreation Unlimited relies on numerous staff members like Shaena Cruse.
This year marks Cruse’s fourth summer at Recreation Unlimited, and Huttlin describes her to be “a ball of joy.”
“I love everything about day camp,” Cruse said. “We have the ages 5 to 21, so it’s right in that sweet spot of younger kids that are so fun. They have so much energy, they love the crafts, the pool, and all the activities we do.”
Cruse’s day starts around 7:30 a.m., and she finishes it at about 10 p.m. She said after the day campers leave, she’ll help with the residential campers in the evening.
“It’s just such a blast from going here to there,” she said. “After the evening program, I’m out like a light.
“It’s a long day, but it’s so worth it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she added.
Cruse is a 21-year-old student at The Ohio State University, where she is majoring in special education. She said she fell in love with special education while helping out in her high school’s special education classes.
“I’ve been working with people with developmental disabilities ever since,” she said.
Recreation Unlimited is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization serving individuals with physical and developmental disabilities and health concerns.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.