Dozens participate in muscular dystrophy summer camp |

Dozens participate in muscular dystrophy summer camp

Cameron Salony
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Leonard Knight, 7, shows off his picture box he made from images from the MDA Summer Camp at the Nevada State 4-H Camp on Thursday morning.

For two Lake Tahoe tourists, a camp this summer was a lot more than a place just to get a tan, but a place to gain a lifelong friend.

Amy Devlin of Las Vegas volunteered at Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp as a counselor to Savannah Lester, 15, of Carson City. This was Devlin’s second year as a counselor and Savannah’s first year attending camp.

Nearly 50 Nevada children ages 6 to 21 attended the camp at the Nevada State 4-H camp at Lake Tahoe. Each camper had at least one volunteer counselor who assisted them day and night.

Campers participated in dances, swim parties, play-money auctions, boat rides and other activities. The theme was “Tropical Island Getaway,” which seemed appropriate because this was the only time that many of the campers have been away from home.

Devlin, 20, said she was excited about this year’s camp because she knew she wouldn’t be as nervous as last year.

“Last year when I met all of the kids at the airport for the first time, they just stared at me and I was really nervous,” Devlin said. “Then they welcomed me and I realized their hearts are so big.”

Devlin said her priority as a camp counselor was being a friend to Savannah, who is stricken with the peripheral nerve disease that causes atrophy in the hand and leg muscles. The disease can also cause foot deformities and loss of nerve sensation.

“Amy is so nice and she’s always there for me,” Savannah said. “She is like my older sister.”

Savannah said she enjoyed being around people who understood what life is like for her. She said she also enjoyed the date auction.

“Being on stage in front of people was quite the experience,” she said.

Devlin first got involved with MDA camp because her father, John Devlin, is a North Las Vegas firefighter who participates annually in the Southern Nevada Fill-the-Boot fundraiser for MDA. This year’s fundraiser will take place the last week of August. Fire agency fundraisers contribute more money to MDA than any other single source in the country. Last year the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) contributed $23.5 million to MDA.

Each year the MDA supports 90 summer camps across the country. The camp is designed to help children with neuromuscular diseases develop lifelong friendships, share interests and build self-confidence. MDA sponsors and other private contributors funded the $600-per-camper fee.

“Supporting MDA means supporting people,” Devlin said. “I am just glad I could give my support as a counselor.”

For more information about MDA, visit

— Writer Cameron Salony is the regional public affairs coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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