Students Apply Healthcare Skills as Counselors at MDA Summer Camp

By Colby Gallagher

Published on September 25, 2019

Jenna Kwiecinski BMS'20, HumSci'20 at the Hardwick, NJ MDA Summer CampFor one week each summer, children with muscular dystrophy are encouraged to have fun away from their parents and caretakers and experience new opportunities at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp. People like Jenna Kwiecinski BMS’20, HumSci’20, make it possible by volunteering their time to make sure the camp runs smoothly and safely.

“It's a time to let loose while having the opportunity to help give the children one of the best weeks of their lives,” Kwiecinski said.

USciences students Kwiecinski, Limarys Arauz DPT’22 and Gabrielle Rooke DPT’22 all served as counselors at the Hardwick, New Jersey location, helping campers with everyday activities like showering and getting dressed as well as providing physical therapy exercises and treatment as needed. Kwiecinski said it was a counselor’s responsibility to build up the children’s confidence to participate in activities that they normally wouldn’t have supervised access to.

USciences students at the 2019 MDA Summer Camp in Hardwick, New Jersey“We played laser tag, rowed a boat, swam, and our campers even got to ride on a swing,” she said. “It was our job as counselors to make sure they were participating in these opportunities while also maintaining a safe environment for them.”

For USciences students, volunteering at something like the MDA Summer Camp is a perfect fit, allowing future health science professionals to provide various therapies and showcase certain traits that will be important in their careers. 

“This opportunity strengthened my ability to listen to the needs of my campers and to develop unique ways that would allow my campers to participate in activities, which are skills that will definitely help me as a future physician,” Kwiecinski said.

 A week-long camp sounds like a lot of work -- and it is -- but Kwiecinski encourages other students to volunteer with an open mind.

“Before the campers arrive, volunteers need to go through several different training sessions. We took lessons on respiratory machines, transferring techniques, swimming procedures, and many more,” she said. “It can seem overwhelming with all of this initial information being presented, but once the campers arrive everything will fall into place and go smoothly.”

Gabrielle Rooke DPT'22 at the MDA Summer Camp with a camperThe interview process begins with an online application, followed by an in-person or Skype interview. 2019 was the second summer Kwiecinski volunteered, and she said there are other opportunities for people to get involved with the Philadelphia MDA chapter if they can’t devote a week to the camp.

Whether it’s for one week or one hour, she said volunteering gives you a new perspective.

“A lot of the activities I would normally take for granted, like swimming in the pool or playing a game of kickball,” she said. “But participating in this opportunity really humbled myself and showed me how lucky I am. I loved being able to give back and to help my campers have these amazing opportunities.”

Counselors have to be at least 18 years old to volunteer; learn more about the MDA Summer Camp and apply here.

Categories: News, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Samson College of Health Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Physical Therapy, Students, Community Service