Camp Munroe held its first summer sessions in the new Munroe-Meyer Institute at 6902 Pine St.
And the new facility, said recreational therapy director Nicole Giron, is a "game-changer."
The building offers a large swimming area, featuring cold- and warm-water pools, an indoor splash pad, a new gymnasium and a new outdoor playground, as well as a state-of-the-art kitchen and other amenities.
After holding a reduced attendance camp in 2020, with no volunteers and a greatly reduced number of campers, Camp Munroe is back for its 39th year, up to about 75% capacity. The camp is running for six one-week sessions, with 166 campers and about 180 volunteers total. The camp's strict COVID-19 protocols remain in place, Giron said.
On a recent Monday, children were laughing and playing in the pool area, while across the hall, another group played a ball game in the gym. In the kitchen, a fourth group was preparing a snack.
"The pool is just incredible, the new facilities are wonderful," Giron said. "People are telling us this feels like a resort."
"This is one of our flagship programs at MMI. For almost four decades it changed the hearts and minds of our community and served thousands of our families," said MMI Director Karoly Mirnics, MD, PhD. "It is exhilarating to see the joy on the face of participants!"
In addition to the play areas, the building allows for more accessibility due to updates and design choice, Giron said. Hallways are wider; there are more accessible restrooms; there is a dedicated nursing station and a dedicated sensory space. The result is a facility that allows for innovative and evolving recreational therapy activities and programming, of which Camp Munroe is only one part.
Mandy Fielder is the mother of 18-year-old Lakota, who has been coming to Camp Munroe since he was four. Although Lakota's always been excited about camp, Fielder said he's been especially pleased with the new building.
When asked what he liked best, Lakota said "Everything."
Mandy added that he's told her the new building is easier to maneuver through in his wheelchair, and the gym is "really neat."
"He doesn't do swimming at camp, but he enjoys watching the other kids in the new pool," she said. "The chance to do activities with his peers and camp buddies -- he looks forward to it so much. It's such an amazing resource."
Lakota also is featured on the artwork in the recreational therapy department that was created by artist Lisa Worrall -- who also was Lakota's former first-grade teacher.
"He was so excited to see that," Fielder said.
Fielder also praised the camp staff. "They are such amazing, kindhearted people," she said.
What's amazing, Giron said, is the opportunity to serve MMI families in a state-of-the-art facility.
"To provide this opportunity for families, it's a joy," she said.
Looks like good times. Checkout the UFO near the campers left shoulder. Could aliens be interested in camp too?