Looking back, we are thrilled to see that the March of Dimes Canada Campers Helping Campers Program has enabled kids and adults with physical disabilities participate in outdoor activities for over 40 years. What once was a wish and an ambition of a couple of Ontario campground owners, today this evolved into a program supported by 200 campgrounds, campground staff, and campers across Canada.
We wanted to learn more about the program, and there is no better person to give us that inside look than Dennis Ullman. Dennis has been with March of Dimes Canada since 1989 and has been the driving force behind Campers Helping Campers program for over 20 years. We caught up with Dennis for a chat while he was preparing for a Rock for Dimes fundraiser in Bingemanns Park.
MARCH OF DIMES CANADA: How did you become involved with the Campers Helping Campers program?
DENNIS ULLMAN: In the early 1990s while working for March of Dimes Canada I was introduced to the Campers Helping Campers program and soon realized there was tremendous potential for both the campgrounds and March of Dimes. I have been able to develop some great friendships and relationships with campground owners, their families and managers, and found they were eager to help individuals with disabilities experience camping and the outdoors by organizing and facilitating fundraising events to support March of Dimes Outdoor Recreation programs.
MODC: Whenever we hear you speak about Campers Helping Campers program, we can’t help but notice your passion for the program; where does this passion stem from?
DU: The Campers Helping Campers program raises funds for those who otherwise would be unable to attend a summer camp program, and I truly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience camping. It is also the passion of the campground owners, camp staff, and campers that drives me. It is a real joy to work with volunteers and supporters who support the March of Dimes summer recreation program and support them in developing new ideas to help keep the program fresh.
MODC: Can you give us a sneak peek at what exciting fundraising events will take place this camping season at some of the Ontario Campgrounds in support of Campers Helping Campers?
DU: Some of the highlights include; Rock for Dimes at Sherkston Shores, and a variety of special events at various campgrounds as Sandy Beach Resort who will host their annual kids’ day and silent auction, and Country Garden’s RV Park who will host a corn roast, quilting retreat, book sale, and their famous home-made pie auction.
MODC: How can a campground or an individual become involved in the Campers Helping Campers program?
DU: Visit our website at www.marchofdimes.ca/campers or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There are a number of opportunities for individuals, campers, campgrounds, or simply anyone who would like to be involved. This year we have also introduced www.mymod.ca, where interested individuals can make online donations.
Summer season might be coming to an end, but campers across Canada are still pitching their tents, firing up the fire pits, and enjoying last days of summer, and camping well in to the fall.
Share your best camping memories in March of Dimes Canada Campers Helping Campers Presents: Camping Memories Facebook Essay Contest. You can support the Campers Helping Campers program and get a chance to win March of Dimes Canada swag. The contest runs from Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 4:00:00 p.m. EST until September 8, 2013 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST. Open to legal residents of Canada (excluding Quebec).
We would like to thank all the participating campgrounds, campers and campground staff for supporting March of Dimes Canada Campers Helping Campers Program. See you next year!