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Assignment. With. Jane. Tonight. On the song. But here I am what can be very entertaining and they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining. When my. With my boys you remember. Skinner. He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner because where's the waiter. And yes and yes what. They call you really. Don't. Want. To share you one might say as you remember. Jeffrey Hardy.
To organize a searching party if you've seen one summer camp you will. You know the rest. Every year since who knows when kids have trooped off for varying periods to live in simulated log cabins named after American Indian tribes take orders from exuberant college students memorize complete camp song repertoire and learn to prepare and consume an astonishingly messy snack called small hours. Summer camp is also often a series of firsts which can occur as a rifle range in a sailboat at swimming class or at a dance. But the firsts begin however about 10 feet from the door with homesickness. It's almost as you pressing to go to summer camp as it will be to leave it. It's a predictable segment of the American summer and this camp Camp Sunnyside is no exception. It's what is exceptional here are the
campers. Welcome pretty girl. Girl. Yeah. I. Know. Right.
This is Tracy Dimsdale from IEDs and Blackhawk County. She is 11
and is afflicted with cerebral palsy. She and over 65 fellow handicapped campers have come to camps on the side just north of Des Moines for 12 days of fun. But like the camp itself is quite literally designed for them owned and operated by the Easter Seal society of Iowa. It's one of less than two dozen such facilities in the country and is considered by some professionals to be the best summer resource program anywhere. It's the fourth largest facility of its kind and serves over 500 campers of all ages in an 11 week summer season. 60 percent of its campers are in wheelchairs. The highest percentage in the country. Most are orthopedic Lee handicapped but accurate categorization is impossible since multiple handicapping conditions usually exist. Meanwhile Tracy Dimsdale is getting organized. I hope you get over there.
OK. I am I am. I am. This is Tracy's third session at camp. Apparently familiarity does not always chase the blues away but will do that is an improbable Sunnyside staple called the jolly way. I didn't
threaten the. Threatening. Attitude. Of things. The camp was built on 80 acres of woodland near Michael Frankel wood state. Construction began in 1959. The dating aspect of Sunnyside history the weight of the bill. That is with local labor labor costs involved trips. Around the. Subsequent growth has been sustained without government dollars which will. Be like this is remarkable. Cannily the founding fathers realized that government money brings government strings but sometimes by the very programs they're meant to support the executive
director of Iowa's Easter Seal society is Rolf Carlson. I think it was a major strategist in Sunnyside conception and it's been a driving force in its development. How how do you explain caps on a side to people who have never been here to experience this. Well it's difficult to explain and I think the story that tells it best as when we went to the demining construction people and said Will you help us build a camp. And they said yeah they'd be delighted to and I'm sure when they came out they expected to find little buildings perhaps half wooden half canvas with a single naked lightbulb hanging in the middle. And when they saw the buildings we had in mind they said hey you're building houses you're not building cabins. And. It's a difficult concept to get across to people to make them realize that while you want to keep a camp atmosphere in a rustic atmosphere you still need to cater to a certain extent to the
handicapped people you're going to serve so all of our buildings are self-contained there on Titan lavatories and we try to explain to people that really we have a series of small houses and some big buildings that we use. How do you characterize the effect of the. Camp on the campers themselves. Well of course it's hard to characterize because it affects each of them differently. But I'd say for the most part it's a whole new horizon and living for them particularly in the first year they come. It's an opportunity to do things that they have heard a lot about that they see in the brothers and sisters involved in where their school needs and never felt that they'd have an opportunity. What. Incident stand out in your mind. What
reactions of campers are things that you never. Especially. Homeboy. This could go on for hours. Again there are many of them really. I think the most amusing was the little girl who came during an experimental program and we were having some very severely handicapped younger children along with some people from Woodard state school and one of the little girls came into my office one morning and. I happen to be a camp director that year and she said. Mr. Carlson you lied to me. And of course I've never lied to a woman you know that. And I said well what do you mean and she said Well you promised me that if we caught fish all we had to do was take him to the court. And she'd cook them for us for the next meal. And I said Well that's right. And she said it's not right. The cook just threw me and my fish out of the kitchen. So I course immediately went over to find out what had happened and the cook said to me. How did she tell you the whole
story. And I said Well no all I've told you is what she told me and she said well she probably neglected to mention to you that she's very proud of those fish they were the first fish she caught. And she's been keeping them under bad for four days to show everyone. I don't know how you got it. They are. Well you lost it. The public perception of the Easter Seals society is generally focused on its work with crippled children. But I don't programs I'm significant to for example the I would chapter operates an aggressive year round home bond program designed to promote clients into the job market through arts and crafts. One summer camping sequence is offered to seven age groups from 8 to 18. This group of fishermen belong to the 30 to 44 year session. Please note that it is a bonafide fishing expedition with a spectator dishing out unsolicited
advice as you and I get back oh yeah same Yeah yeah yeah. Oh well we will. Get. Back. To you. The impressive angler is Phyllis Russell from Animal House. It's her first summer at Sunnyside. This is her first time. Yes and that's great. There'd be so much to do with. What is it.
Like. Oh it means being outdoors along. With me visiting with other campers. Let's. Have. Mutual. Help. There's something about being severely handicapped. That only the other severely handicapped. Person. Really understand. Betty Henry from to catered to this she is umbilical to an electric respirator without it she can breathe for about 15 minutes. It's an example of the extent to which the Sunnyside program goes to accommodate handicapped Iowans in this case provisions for a life sustaining apparatus. Another example is hear from Sully. This rocking band provided by the camp will use its gravity to facilitate diaphragmatic breathing. Without it you could not attend. How were you when you had her when. I was 12 before my 30th birthday. Must've been. Just before they really discovered the vaccines.
The Salk vaccine I think was. Developed I think it was a year or two later. I'm not sure of the year. But they do trial but I think I was too aware of it. Do you ever think about. When you're. 10 regrets you know. You know I never I never dwell on that. I suppose one of the reasons would be that my faith you know I trust God. And I believe he has what's best for. You so it doesn't bother me. I'm leaving coming. This is my 12th year 12 straight year working on a chair that is to say here you've got the wood in you and you have me. Thank you thank you so much. Yes right guesses. Yes it's called Take a
Eavis when you hand it over would you be able to get it you know I don't want to hurt the arts and crafts staff. But I mean I think is my favorite and rifle range and boat rides. They're probably number one to a very. Mean Man Yes it's me. Well. They. Put a life jacket on you. Back into the pool and let you float. It's a little scary at first. When you get into it it's fine. Right. You can. Better the. World. Mm. Mm. Mm. Mm. Mm. Mm. Mm mm. Mm.
Mm. Mm. Mm. Mm. Mm. Mm. Mm. Hmm. What's the.
Underlying purpose of these programs in your mind. In my mind the camp director Scott I'm not interested in organized camping. Ever since I was 10 years old I went to Boy Scout camp and it's always been a part of my life and I feel there's a lot of very intrinsic good intrinsic values in an organized camp program. The only thing that really separates us is we do things a little differently and we're accessible. We have an accessible facility. I want to give these opportunities to kids and to adults that they might not have had and I might not have been able to have at 8:00 at another camp. Is there such a thing as a philosophy of camping. Yeah there is. My main philosophy is also my main objective for camping is to have fun. We like to write the way we view it. Most of our people are Sarah peed and evaluated re-evaluated and
tested retested for 50 or 51 weeks out of the year. They need a break. Handicapped if were just people who have a physical disability. Other than
that their normal life is the same. Desires in life the same desires for recognition the same need to be educated girl. I think. People by and large accept this knowing they're giving the handicaps a chance for their place in the sun. What does this mean to you to work out here. I don't know that I could even begin to describe and maintain its There must be similar to motherhood although I have never experienced that. But to you have an opportunity to see. The beginning of something which. Has. Limitless opportunity to expand and to serve people and. As our program has grown and become so more more sophisticated. And more people have become interested. It must be similar to seeing a child growing into adolescence and. Adulthood and so on. I
guess. I guess why my. Mother adds. That. When you become emotionally involved with the campers. Yeah sometimes I try to keep from it because there are so many I'm not sure I'm big enough to take all that involvement. But there are some of course who will. Just tug at your heartstrings and. And you just follow them through life. Yeah. I. Want.
More. You know I'm not going to. Go. Out like this. My. Friends I can't remember what it's been a LOL. Oh my God. Never no matter if. It's been said that we only become aware of our margin horizon
at Sunnyside things like that are not suppressed so only the campers really know what their time here has. It has been time as they say flies when you're having fun. But the most profound Sunnyside may not be for the campers as they pack up. It may be appropriate to consider a question that anyone who works with a handycam has asked at one time or another. Is it a handicap to learn. Or those of us who think we're not. I kind of I have to reject the philosophies that say that that I am an accident. Oh blind chance. Oh I probably am more of a burden for people because people have to me to limeys of other people. Take care of themselves. But I think oh faith in God and faith in Christ and relying.
On the importance of each image a person in Gonzales gives me work. I married you no doubt. Goodnight. Close the deal. Oh. Right. Right right right. Right. Right. Right right. You. Know you. Are stores. Right. Kerry. Might.
Raise their. HAND AND IT. Feels. Good days. I promise to meet someone new to spring. Where. Is my story. That I was. Asked to stay still.
Eat. He still struggle. He's. Three. Feet. I don't know. Who is she. To. Spin my hood.
Assignment Iowa Classics
Episode Number
Camp Sunnyside
Producing Organization
Iowa Public Television
Contributing Organization
Iowa Public Television (Johnston, Iowa)
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Assignment Iowa is a magazine featuring segments on a different aspect of Iowa culture and history each episode.
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Interviewer: Mary Jane Odell [Chin]
Producing Organization: Iowa Public Television
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Iowa Public Television
Identifier: 24F32 (Old Tape Number)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:29:35
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Chicago: “Assignment Iowa Classics; 402; Camp Sunnyside,” 1978-08-13, Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “Assignment Iowa Classics; 402; Camp Sunnyside.” 1978-08-13. Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Assignment Iowa Classics; 402; Camp Sunnyside. Boston, MA: Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from