ELKHART — Eleven-year-old Mykale Canter of Elkhart is looking forward to going four-wheeling and water skiing at summer camp this year.
It will be Canter’s second experience at Camp Riley in Martinsville. Camp Riley, funded by the Riley Children’s Foundation, provides a traditional summer camp experience for children with disabilities.
Canter’s grandmother and caregiver, Melissa Canter, said she was concerned about sending Mykale, who has cerebral palsy and dystonia, to camp for the first time last summer.
“I had visions of him not liking it and of him crying when we went to pick him up,” Canter said.
But when Melissa and her husband, Joe Canter, showed up at Camp Riley to pick up Mykale, they found a very different situation.
“He looked at us and said, ‘I’m coming for two weeks next year,’” Melissa Canter remembered.
The Canters first heard about Camp Riley from another family with a child who had health issues similar to Mykale’s.
“They said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to send him to Camp Riley,’” Canter said.
A doctor later confirmed that recommendation and Mykale headed to camp for the first time in 2012.
When not at camp, Mykale plays on a Little League team and is part of a Boy Scout troop. At camp, he’s able to do even more with the help of Camp Riley counselors.
“When he goes to camp (the staff) asks what they should work on with him,” Melissa Canter said. “They set goals for the campers. Last year Mykale walked up a hill at the camp using his walker. That was a big accomplishment because his right side doesn’t really work that well.”
She continued, “He was afraid of heights and they have a 40-foot tower with swing seats. He went to the top of it. He wasn’t able to climb it, but he got to go to the top.”
Melissa Canter said that Mykale has a good disposition and stays positive about his physical abilities.
“He wants to ride a dirt bike, and do all of the normal boy stuff,” Canter said. “He just adapts to situations. Sometimes when he can’t participate, that bothers him, but he doesn’t complain about it. This year (at camp) they will be doing off-road four-wheeling and he is so excited about that. He’s always talking about it.”
Mykale will be at Camp Riley July 14-26. Canter said it’s hard for her to leave Mykale at camp, but she appreciates the independence and opportunities provided there.
“It’s just a fantastic place,” Canter said. “At camp, he gets independence that I sometimes don’t give him. I tend to do everything for him.”
Canter is also hoping Mykale will be able to reconnect with friends he made at last year’s camp.
Find out more about Camp Riley at www.RileyKids.org/camp.