IN THE COMMUNITY
The question still surprises Sharon and Jerry Miller. The Sanibel couple hosts camp outings, birthdays and other celebrations for those with disabilities. One of their sons, Robert, died from a rare health disorder; another son, Ben, lives on Sanibel under caregiver supervision. A disabled person at the Millers' Trailways Camp inevitably wonders when’s the next event, Jerry Miller says, which is surprising, as many asking are acutely disabled. “The joy of campers,” he says, “is hard to explain. [You] just have to see it to believe it.”
The Millers began special-needs camps following Robert’s death in 2005. They established the Robert V. and Benjamin G. Miller Fund to finance camps and the “I Am Special” celebration, which honors fund sponsors, volunteers and campers. The event coincides with Ben Miller’s birthday and is in April at the Sanibel
THE MILLERS EXPECT 20 OR SO CAMPERS, VOLUNTEERS AND HEALTH EXPERTS. FUN ACTIVITIES INCLUDE ARCHERY, INTRODUCTIONS TO WILDLIFE, FISHING AND HIKING AND EVENING CAMPFIRES.
Community House. Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida is a partner in the program.
The next Trailways Camp is Sept. 21-24 in Alva, in central Florida. The Millers expect 20 or so campers, volunteers and health experts. Fun activities include archery, introductions to wildlife, fishing and hiking and evening campfires. It is a rare chance to enjoy being outside under the warm sun, Sharon Miller says of disabled campers such as her son. “There have been days when I have to pick myself up,” she says of parenting disabled children. “But the Lord has brought us so many rich blessings.”
Jerry Miller says the Riverside Retreat in Alva where camps are staged has a new handicap walkway to the Caloosahatchee River, giving more access. Sanibel volunteers helped fund and build the switchback ramp, he says. Miller advises those with special-needs kids to support them. “Let go as a parent,” he says. “Every individual has gifts and talents.”
THE JOY OF CAMPERS IS HARD TO EXPLAIN. [YOU] JUST HAVE TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT.”
Details are at trailwayscamps.org.
Craig Garrett is Group Editor-in-Chief for TOTI Media.
River trips, campfires and archery are part of the fun at Trailways Camp in Alva. And nothing makes memories like a group photo (below).
Trailways Camp founders Sharon Miller (left) and Jerry Miller (right) work with their granddaughter, Ella Beuning (center left), and her mother, Kristina, in bringing joy to those with special needs.