August 24, 2013

Disabled vets kayak, paddle at Maine camp

Twenty-seven disabled troops and their families are spending a long weekend at Camp Wavus in Jefferson.

By Beth Quimby
Staff Writer

JEFFERSON - Almost as quickly as a squirrel, Anthony Webster of Windham scrambled up into the branches of a white pine, then scampered across a 6-inch log suspended 35 feet above ground.

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Roy Mitchell, of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, maneuvers through the ropes course Saturday during Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation’s ninth annual Veterans No Boundaries summer program at Camp Wavus on Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson.

Photos by Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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Richard Ruddell of Brunswick, a Navy veteran, works on a wood carving at Camp Wavus on Saturday.

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There was no sign of the injuries he suffered in six separate enemy attacks in Afghanistan during his stint as a cavalry scout in the Army. Webster, a recipient of the Purple Heart, said making his way through the ropes course high up in the trees gave him the same rush he felt in battle.

"It gets your blood pumping, and I can't chicken out in front of my wife," he said Saturday.

Webster is one of 27 disabled military veterans, many of them wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, taking part in the Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation's ninth annual Veterans No Boundaries summer program.

Participants and their families are spending Friday through Monday at Camp Wavus on Damariscotta Lake practicing traditional and nontraditional camping activities.

The summer camp, offered free of charge -- and a winter program at Sunday River resort in Newry -- is designed to help disabled veterans discover that their disabilities do not prevent them from taking part in outdoor activities. They also have a chance to socialize with other disabled veterans and reconnect with their families.

Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation is a group of 400 volunteers who help disabled adults and children learn how to take part in recreational sports.

"This is all about the vets. When you see whole families doing things together, it is all worth it," said Joanna McMahon, co-chairperson of the program.

In the first year of the program, three veterans and their families participated. This summer 85 people -- veterans and their families -- are taking part.

Veterans No Boundaries had to raise $10,800 to cover the cost for the 27 veterans and their families, who receive free lodging and meals. The program also pays for travel expenses and raises money for its adaptive sports equipment.

Kathy Kroll, a recreational therapist and volunteer, said the program's growth has been strictly by word of mouth. Participants come from all over the country, although many are from Maine.

"What we are looking for is a soldier sitting at home who doesn't know we are here," said Kroll.

Maine native David Marino, now a resident of Burbank, Calif., heard about the program from his friend and fellow Marine D.J. Martin of LaGrange. Both men were injured in blasts in Iraq.

The two men, both with their families, said the peaceful lake setting and enthusiasm of the volunteers helped them try new things.

"My whole family is able to kayak together," said Martin.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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Additional Photos

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Anthony Webster of Windham, an Army veteran, gets a massage Saturday from volunteer and licensed massage therapist Christine Cornish.

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Volunteer Shawn Withers, left, advises Marines veteran David Marino, a Medford native who lives in Burbank, Calif., on a self-defense technique using a cane Saturday at Camp Wavus on Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson.


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