Traveling back to Linville, Va, then turning down a quiet lane, is where the peaceful Camp Still Meadows can be found. It is quiet at this writing, because summer camp hadn’t started yet!
MaryEllen Chewning, the treasurer, and the last founding board member left, is a fountain of camp information- past and present.
She was in the office, making name tags and little last minute things to get ready for the upcoming first week of camp.
As MaryEllen recalls, “We started with nothing – just the hills. This house belonged to Jan Maash, and she just had a dream to turn her land into a place for entertainment for children and adults with disabilities, both developmental and physical. We started where the shelter is, borrowing big white tents, long tables, and chairs, and we started doing camps.” This was back in 1979.
What followed was getting a member board to work on getting grants and organizing fundraisers. Over the years, all the buildings that were in the original plans drawn up by Jan Maash have been built, except for one- a commercial kitchen. What it has grown into is a charitable, non-profit organization, allowing it’s participants to be in a safe environment, meeting their physical and emotional needs, and allowing them to relax and just have fun.
The camp only holds day activities, no overnights, with 3 summer camp sessions. The spring and fall activities are usually special education class field trips.
Jodi Haas is the Camp President, working full time at Costco. She said, “Still Meadows currently has 3 part time employees and we added Makayla Cyzick for the three camp weeks. I began at Still Meadows as a Girl Scout Leader whose troop did their Gold Award projects there. I joined the board in 2006. Makayla began volunteering during camp weeks in 2016 and was our camp director last year and this year.”
Makayla works for The ARC, graduated from Limestone University, and is starting a Masters program at EMU in the fall.
The first week of the 3 camp sessions this year, the week of June 19th, has 24 attendees. – age 17 to over 50. Minimum age accepted at camp is 8 years old, all the way up to elderly.
Therapeutic riding is also available with a new instructor, Emma Rexrode, held on Tuesday nights, for 8 sessions. The riding is held in the outdoor ring, with the riders doing fun games, to gain confidence and muscle strength. There is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill –“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of man.”- (woman or child obviously included!).
MaryEllen recalls one little wheelchair bound guy, and how “there is the beneficial heat of the horse on the muscles, and what’s so paramount is the confidence they gain – they think they are hot stuff!”
Other animal residents include 2 donkeys, an alpaca, bunnies, chickens, and several horses.
Camps run Monday through Friday- the camp fee is $200, but they do offer scholarships. They ask the group home or family to pay $25, if they cannot afford the full $200. The rest is covered by scholarship.
“The philosophy of the camp, is to be here, in a rural area. It’s a place where you don’t have to worry about people looking at you, or talking about you. It’s a peaceful place.”
Many of members of the area group homes, including Pleasant View, and individuals living at home, look forward to spending a week at Still Meadows Summer Day Camp.
Much of the building that has been done on the grounds has been done by Girls Scouts, Eagles Scouts, and other volunteers. Still Meadows has received grants for several of the buildings.
The fenced in Healing Garden is the result of volunteer work. It is a peaceful place of fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Groups come in to volunteer and weed all the gardens. The Healing Garden allows camp participants to go in and pick fresh fruits and vegetables right off the vine and eat them on the spot! A man doing community service hours, who worked for a stone business, built the stone wall box gardens. Scouts built the little buildings inside the garden.
Volunteerism is very important to the camp. Recently, Cooks Creek UMC weather sealed benches and swings, worked on the decks, weeded and did some minor repairs. The United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County organized a Day of Action, with volunteers from Lakeside and DARS working hard in readying the campgrounds for the summer campers. Harrisonburg Mens Diversion Center and HART School at JMU were there in April and May helping out.
The grounds are beautiful, the views are amazing, and it is quite a peaceful place. Jan Maash’s dream has come to fruition!
If you would like to help Still Meadows Enrichment Center and Camp by volunteering or with a monetary donation, or have a family member who would like to attend, you can contact them at the following below:
11992 Hollar School Rd, Linville, VA 22834
On Facebook – Still Meadows Enrichment Center and Camp