WALLENPAUPACK - Colors were abundant at the Wallenpaupack Middle School campus Saturday morning. For the third annual ARC 5k Color Run / Walk, many turned out for the 3.1-mile race that occurs in support of the Dyberry Day Camp.
Before the participants started, some painted themselves with a colorful powder, but once on the trail, there were volunteers waiting to spray them with colors of the rainbow at what organizer Erin Zubrickas called “spray zones.” By the end of the run, many were covered head to toe in multiple colors. The event occurs yearly, in support of the Dyberry Day Camp in Honesdale. As of the start of the race, just from the 309 preregistered, about $15,000 was raised.
There has been a fundraiser of some sort for the camp for the last 30 years. Before the Color Run, there was a bike hike. The recent race however, had a vendor fair and this year a fundraiser for Bobby Fortuna, who is a student in the district in need of a kidney.
Participants included students from the district as well as members of the community. This year, more people took part in the day then last year. A Wellness Teacher in the Middle School, Zubrickas said she looks forward to the Color Run all year because all funds from the day go directly to the Dyberry Day Camp.
This summer marks the 46th season for the day camp that started with 16 campers in 1972. This year, there will be 56 campers. A camp founder Kathy Highhouse started Dyberry for special needs children with the director of special education in Wayne County, who had a “dream” of such a camp she said. The camp started with a $6,000 grant.
Based on private property past the Wayne County fairgrounds, Elizabeth Baerenklau who has been involved in the camp for nearly 30 years, called the Dyberry Day Camp an “oasis” as it is asscessible for anyone, no matter their physical or intellectual abilities. There is a swing set that would allow someone in a wheelchair to swing, as well as regular swing sets, basketball hoops and “something for everyone” said Baerenklau.
For the campers, there is no charge to attend, as it is funded by events such as the Color Run and a bike hike in Honesdale as well as a bike hike in Damascus. Children from Wayne and Pike counties attend the camp. A general camp day starts when campers arrive at 9 a.m., and go on to play games, sing songs and learn things from guests or do arts and crafts. Before the campers go to the pool in Honesdale, there is snack time and once back from the pool, they enjoy lunch and then during free time, they may ride bicycles, play basketball or do such activities. Over time there have been visits from the likes of Smokey the Bear, Winnie the Poo or the campers take trips to area attractions.
Highhouse said camp is “amazing” because not only do the campers gain something from their time at Dyberry, but so too, do the high school-aged counselors and volunteers, as they interact with one another and “grow.” There have been many counselors, who started while in high school and continue through their years in college, some going on to pursue careers in special education or physical and occupational therapy.
The camp is an experience in itself, Baerenklau said, because the campers are enjoying activities they likely would not otherwise, as the Dyberry Day Camp is an “oasis in Wayne County.” The first year of the Color Run, Baerenklau was “blown away” by peoples’ enthusiasm and the many activities.
Glady Goehringer, a camp director said every day of camp is a great day because everyone goes home safe and happy. The support of the community is very much appreciated. The Hawley Knights of Columbus have a cookout every year and the Honesdale Knights of Columbus have an ice cream party. The Hawley Women’s Club and Catholic Daughters of America gives to the camp and the Lions Club takes the campers to a baseball game.
Sponsored by the Advocacy and Resources for Citizens (ARC) of Wayne County, the head counselors are certified teacher, some of the adult counselors have worked with children and then the college and high school students are trained by those with experience. The campers range from 5-years-old to 21, and each goes home with a yearbook because, Goehringer said, “camp is a memory” the campers will not lose.
A camper since 2014, Brock Bellinger was at the Color Race Saturday. From camp, Bellinger said he has gained a lot of friendships and he likes the activities the campers do. Saturday was Bellinger’s first Color Run and he decided to participate, to give his own support to the camp.
Laynee Lundberg, age 13 ran in her first Color Run with her mother Michelle Telliefsen Saturday. Telliefsen said the day was fun because they were running together as a family, as well as the overall feeling of camaraderie and community. As well though, it was actually fun getting “messy.”
After the race, an 8th grader Connor Gramling said being painted with so many colors was “fun,” as it made him appear like a rainbow. While Dakota Walsh said his coloring was a mixture because he is “unique.”
Saturday was 10-year-old Thomas Eaton’s first Color Run. He ran with his aunt Tina Mitschele, who called the race “awesome.” Eaton said he figured they should participate in the day because it would be “fun getting colorful.” The spraying of many colors, Mitschele said gave the event a “different sense of spirit” as there was a shared feeling of happiness around the course.
Tara Duggan ran the race with her family and to “support a good cause” she said. Afterwards, despite being drenched in an array of colors, it was “so much fun” because of the “excitement” and doing something the family would not normally do.
As she was ending the race, Jillian Rodriguez did a cartwheel when she crossed the finish line. Throughout the race, Rodriguez said she and her friends did such stunts. Rodriguez liked the course of the race, since it was spread out. While Abby Skelton said the race wasn’t that long. The friends had participated in the Color Run before and both said they would participate again.
For more information about the Dyberry Day Camp visit http://arcwaynecounty.org/ddc.php.