By BENJAMIN LEUNG @goskagit
May 23, 2022
Korey, a nonprofit summer camp for children living with life-altering medical conditions, celebrated expansions and additions to its facilities at a VIP reception and ribbon-cutting event on May 21.
The list of improvements includes three new camper cabins, a new recreational center and various renovations of buildings and infrastructure.
With its sustainability-focused design, each of the new Orca, Eagle and Bear cabins will accommodate up to 12 campers and are equipped with ADA-compliant bathrooms.
Camp Korey, located on Brotherhood Road east of Lake McMurray, provides its campers with a summer camp experience with accessible facilities, adaptable programs, and a team of medical professionals and trained volunteers to provide necessary care and supervision, all free of charge.
“We try to meet the kids where they’re at,” said Executive Director Jay Henningsen. “(Accessibility), from our perspective, is being intentional about making sure the counter heights are right, (or that) there’s no access issues for a person (with a wheelchair or) a walker. – We’ve got all kinds of assisted support for these campers.”
The new cabins are part of Camp Korey’s goal to double the camp’s capacity for each weeklong summer session to 120 – with plans to later build seven more cabins.
“If we don’t have enough capacity, we might have to turn away kids, which is very heartbreaking,” said camp founder Tim Rose. “The more capacity we have, the more kids we can let have the camp experience. It’s a place for them to come and forget about their illnesses – and be normal kids at camp.”
A new 14,000-square-foot, two-story recreation center – equipped with rooftop solar panels – will provide a space for campers to participate in physical activities, including climbing on a wheelchair-accessible rock wall or playing an adaptive game of basketball.
Renovations to the camp’s Surprise Me center – a space for children to perform music, do yoga, and more, swimming pool, and covered archery pavilion, all provide campers with more activities during their stay.
Additional renovations to infrastructure, including expansion of broadband internet to strengthen program capabilities, access to medical records and emergency services, and the paving of roads and pathways were done to improve the safety and accessibility of the campgrounds.
These additional facilities and renovations are part of the first phase of Camp Korey’s 10-year plan to expand and improve the grounds.
“We just hope to continue to grow and have more people come,” Rose said.
Camp Korey and its improvements are funded through donations, grants, fundraisers and charity from organizations such as the Seattle Theater Group, which donated theater-quality lighting and sound equipment to the Surprise Me center.
“We’re working in the community just to raise awareness so that we can make sure that all of our families in the community know who we are,” said Christa Pugh, director of philanthropy at Camp Korey.
After the VIP reception and ribbon-cutting events, parents were invited to the camp to see the new facilities and renovations.
“Until camp, we had never had my son sleep in a room away from us. He’s always been in earshot because we needed to potentially provide medical care during the night,” said Andy Fry, a parent of two campers. “(He came) back as a more independent, transformed, holistic kid. It’s just been amazing.”
“I can truly be myself – and I’m not being judged or not being stared at all the time – and just be happy for a full week of my life,” said camper Kalina Fry, daughter of Andy Fry.
Reporter Benjamin Leung: firstname.lastname@example.org, 360-416-2156, Twitter: @goskagit