Veterans and rookies enjoy Summer Camp at Camp Barnes

posted Sat, Aug 8, 2015 by Jon Buzby

Will Duffy is enjoying his first experience at Summer Camp.

Volunteering has become a family affair for the Worsh siblings. From left, Logan, Hannah and Ayden.

FRANKFORD, Del. — On an overcast Saturday afternoon on the basketball court at Camp Barnes, Will Duffy battled for position underneath the basket as his teammate’s shot went up. As the ball caromed off the back of the rim, Duffy soared into the air, grabbed the ball at the peak of his jump and laid it back in softly off the glass.

A chorus of gasps could be heard from the campers and counselors looking on in awe.

At 6-foot-6, Duffy stood out among his Special Olympics peers attending the annual three day, two night camp.

“He’s a great kid,” Kent Wild Kat Area Director Dave Manwiller said while watching Duffy leap up to block an opponent's shot. “He’s a great athlete. He’s a great teammate.”

Duffy, 21, was attending the camp for the first time. He competed for the Kent County Wild Kats Special Olympics Area this past year, playing basketball and softball.

“My mom convinced me to join Special Olympics,” Duffy said. “Softball is my favorite.”

Duffy was all business on the court, but off it he could be heard laughing and joking with his newfound friends.

“He’s like a gentle giant,” one of the counselors pointed out.

Duffy was one of nearly 60 Delawareans attending the first of two sessions of the annual Special Olympics camp held at Camp Barnes. The camp attracts athletes and counselors of all ages from across the state to the secluded complex nestled along Miller’s Creek.

“We are fortunate to be guests on what we consider to be the perfect setting to hold a camp for our athletes,” said Gary Cimaglia, SODE senior director of sports and camp director. “This facility allows our athletes to experience a true summer camp.”

On Day 1, campers arrived, ate lunch, and then enjoyed making tie-dyed shirts with their new friends and counselors, which included high school and college students along with longtime SODE volunteers. Shortly afterward, student-athletes from the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association student-leadership conference arrived to participate in field day activities.

The student-athletes teamed up with the Special Olympics campers in a variety of fun and challenging games, testing their skills, while at the same time creating a natural unifying opportunity. It was the second straight summer the DIAA has made the Special Olympics camp part of their leadership conference.

“I was nervous at first because I didn’t know what to expect,” Hodgson Vo-Tech sophomore Vaughn Wood shared while watching the basketball game. “I wasn’t sure what I’d get out of it, but I’m having a great time.”

Many of the college and high school counselors have volunteered at the camp for years, including Hannah Worsh.

“I was asked to come be the lifeguard,” recalled Worsh, who began volunteering at the camp when she was a sophomore at St. Mark’s and now continues while attending the University of Delaware. “And I couldn’t wait to come back after that first experience.”

The summer camp is now a family affair for the Worsh family as Hannah’s brothers, Logan, a junior at Del-Tech, and Ayden, a sophomore at St. Mark’s, volunteer with her.

“It wasn’t hard at all to convince them,” Worsh said, smiling. “Logan came one year and just kind of took over his cabin. Ayden is a soccer coach for Special Olympics and is here with us this summer for the first time and having a great time.”

The camp continues Sunday with a full slate of activities and then concludes Monday morning.