View Full Version : Marine volunteers make difference at MDA camp

07-26-04, 06:09 AM
Marine volunteers make difference at MDA camp
Submitted by: MCAS Miramar
Story Identification #: 200472214634
Story by Lance Cpl. Skye Jones

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. (Jul. 21, 2004) -- CUYAMACA STATE PARK SAN DIEGO, Calif. -Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder that causes the muscles in the body to weaken. Over time, the muscles break down and become replaced with fatty tissues. There are varied cases of the disease and each person is affected by it differently.

Someone with muscular dystrophy experiences muscle problems either as a baby, in childhood or in adulthood. There is no cure for the disorder and children with certain types usually do not live past 25 years of age.

Marines and Sailors from Southern California and Arizona volunteered one or two weeks of their time at the Muscular Dystrophy Association camp here June 20 through June 26 and July 11 through July 17.

Each volunteer transformed from a servicemember to a counselor, with just as much responsibility as a warrior, if not more.

"Spending time with these kids makes you appreciate things so much more in life," said Lance Cpl. Michelle Roberts, supply clerk, Travel Management Office, 1st Force Service Support Group. "They love having us at camp and that keeps me coming back."

In order for the kids to enjoy camp like other campers without physical disabilities, each of them is assigned to one or two counselors who are there for them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Without the volunteers, there wouldn't be a camp," mentioned Cpl. Russell A. Oubina, a military volunteer coordinator for MDA camp and weather observer, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. "The counselors allow the children to enjoy camp without any barriers or limitations."

Campers need assistance with everything from bathing, eating and even going to the bathroom.

The main mission of each volunteer is to make his or her camper's week filled with fun and excitment.

"It's all about having a serving mentality. I never realized how much that I had been given until I came to camp and worked with these kids," said Cpl. Evan Bryan, aviation technician, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11. "I asked my camper how he felt having the disease and he told me that he didn't give it much thought."

You can't really appreciate how much you have until you realize how little others have."

The campers do not let their disabilities get in the way of enjoying life. Camp provides them with a week to have fun and experience life to the fullest.

"I have been coming to this camp for 10 years and it is one of my favorite weeks out of the year," explained Jason Caban, a camper. "I really appreciate the military coming out here. They do a lot of hard work for us and I think they're the greatest, especially since they have to chase after me."


Cpl. Russell A. Oubina, a military volunteer coordinator for MDA camp and weather observer with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, smiles while spending some quality time with his camper. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Skye Jones