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Kids with special needs defy disabilities at 4H Mission Possible Camp

By Betty Nguyen, bnguyen@ktxs.com
Published On: Jul 09 2013 07:19:43 PM CDT
BROWNWOOD, Texas -

Mission Possible Camp is a fun experience filled with life lessons.

Brownwood's Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service 4-H held a three-day camp for kids with special needs, who got to partner with young mentors and experience normal summer camp activities like swimming and canvas painting.

"Yes they do have disabilities but they are people just like everyone else," one of the camp mentors, Mattie Lastovica, said. Lastovica has been a part of Mission Possible Camp for four years. "I know that every year I'll be faced with new challenges and learn so much more that it's worth it to come back. I love working with these kids and it's the highlight of my summer every year."

The camp co-creator Laurinda Boyd said the mission of the camp, or at least of the mentors, is to ensure that the campers have the most normal, positive camp experience they can have.

Maria Hey is a mother and volunteer at the camp. Her daughter is a mentor while her son is a camper. She said she hopes those who attend Mission Possible Camp will share the experience and spread messages that will break stereotypes about kids with special needs. "It would take away the fear of the unknown," Hey said.

Many of the staff agree that seeing the reactions and interactions is one of the most rewarding things about Mission Possible Camp.

"They don't get an opportunity like this very often and to see how excited they get to have this experience is wonderful," another camp mentor, Sarah Muehlstein said. "I thought it would be me making an impact on them, just that, but it's definitely the other way around in my opinion. They do so much more for me than I could do for them."

"The biggest thing I've learned through this experience is that although these kids do have special needs and they do have challenges in life, they are some of the kindest, most compassionate kids you'll ever meet and they have the most positive outlook on life even though they are faced with many challenges each day," Lastovica said. "These kids are different, but they're not less than anyone else."

Boyd said she hopes the mentors take their life-changing experiences and pass it on.

The camp kicked off on Monday and wraps up Wednesday afternoon. This is the camp's eighth year. Kids do not have to be a 4-H member to be involved. You can call (325) 784-5482 or email center@ag.tamu.edu for more information, like how to register your kids for next year's camp.