Media Archive

Local UMaine student volunteers for vacation

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 18, May 01, 2002

By Sarah MacIlroy
Staff Writer

ORONO Joseph Deitz of Atkinson, a biology major at the University of Maine, spent a week of spring vacation as a member of a UMaine group participating in Alternative Spring Break (ASB). ASB is a chapter of the national organization Break-Away. Involving over 20,000 participants from numerous college campuses, the program was established to provide an opportunity for students to work as social volunteers at various locations around the United States during their respective college spring breaks.

"I volunteered at the Boggy Creek Gang Camp (BCGC) in Eustis, Fla.", says Deitz. "It's a camp for kids with life threatening illnesses."

BCGC, co-founded by General Norman Schwarzkopf and actor Paul Newman, was specifically designed to give chronically ill children a chance to safely enjoy the activities of a 'normal' camp. All 'typical summer camp activities' are provided for these kids, using modified equipment and facilities where necessary. Families are invited to participate with their children and a major goal of BCGC is to establish friendships between campers, their families and the BCGC staff.

"The week I was there, BCGC was hosting a session for a Kids on Ventilator Assistance Program group. I was assigned to a particular camper and family. It was my job to ensure that they could take advantage of all the camp had to offer," explains Deitz. "For the time they are at camp, the emphasis is not on the kid's disease, but rather on having fun."

Deitz says of his experience, "I enjoyed working as a 'family pal' for my camper and his family. He was my age yet has seen and experienced many things I can't begin to understand. I wish there were more camps like Boggy Creek. The opportunities and services it provides to children with life threatening diseases are invaluable."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.