Nicholas’s Playground at the Pine Tree Camp Offers Fully Accessible Fun [VIDEO]
About 2 years ago, a 14-year-old camper at the Pine Tree Camp for Children and Adults with Disabilities told administrators that what the place needed was a fully-accessible playground for everyone, including kids in wheelchairs, like him. On Tuesday, Nicholas's Playground was opened. And it's beautiful!
Nicholas Alexander is a very special young man. He raises money each year so other kids can attend the camp he loves so much. A force to be reckoned with, Nicholas is relentless when he gets an idea in his head. So when he started thinking about a fully-accessible playground, he made sure everyone knew about it...and no one forgot about it.
Planners went to work putting together ideas and figuring out how to make them reality. And two years later, Nicholas's Playground opened during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday. Nicholas was there and got the first ride on the wheelchair swing! The playground also includes a pirate ship the kids can climb in, a playhouse, conventional swings, sand boxes, and more. Check out the video for pictures of this cool play place!
I've been raising money for the Pine Tree Camp for probably better than 20 years and yesterday was the first time I'd ever actually been to the facility. I'd always heard that it's a magical place, and I saw for myself yesterday that it truly is. Sitting on beautiful North Pond, the camp features everything you'd expect; canoes, cabins, and a dining hall. But this camp also has a health center, since its campers have special needs. The trails are wider and well-maintained, so they can be traveled by wheelchair.
And then there's the tree house. It's beautiful! And it's fully accessible, with a ramp rather than a ladder. I've included pictures of the tree house in my video. I wanted to move in and live there myself! Incredible views and a wide porch make it nearly idyllic.
I have to tell you about a young man I met just before leaving the camp. His name is Luc and he's one of the counselors at the camp. JR's wife Jess and I sat next to him on a bench and started chatting with him, realizing immediately that he was not a local boy who picked up a summer job working at a kids' camp. Luc is from a small town outside Manchester, England. He's studying Special Education at home, and is part of an international program that sends students overseas to work in special needs camps. He told us the Pine Tree Camp was the first to offer him a job, and he's enjoyed it so much that this is the third year he's worked in Maine. And, he says, he's hoping to do his Master's studies at the Pine Tree Camp. Kids at the camp get top-notch care from some very special people, like Luc!