PRESS RELEASE September 2019
Challenge Mountain’s Spirit Day Camp Wraps Up a Successful 35th Year
BOYNE CITY, MI | September 2019 — Challenge Mountain’s Spirit Day Camp is a summer day camp designed for individuals living with disabilities to enjoy recreational and leisure activities. “Participating in community-based activities is important to feeling part of a community,” explains Challenge Mountain Executive Director Elizabeth Looze. “Spirit Day Camp ensures that individuals living with disabilities have opportunities that remove barriers and support social inclusion.”
Spirit Day Camp is consistent with year-round adaptive recreational programs at Challenge Mountain, “centered on having fun, making and sustaining friendships, building confidence and independence, and fostering positive and hopeful expectations,” Looze adds. Activities differ from year-to-year. This summer, participants experienced nature with hikes and exploration; spent an afternoon with the Young Americans at Boyne Highlands; learned to golf through the Boyne Highlands First TEE program; and played put-put golf at Pirate’s Cove in Petoskey.
George Armstrong, a Petoskey High School special education teacher, started Spirit Day Camp in 1984 so students with disabilities could experience life at summer camp. Recently, Armstrong was recognized by Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC) as the 2019 Special Education Teacher of the Year. The MCEC award “recognizes an outstanding member of the profession whose work exemplifies the best in special education teaching. His or her work reflects significant, documented educational success for students, continued professional development, and the highest standards of educational quality,” according to michigancec.org. At the MCEC awards ceremony, Armstrong’s dedication to his profession was summarized perfectly:
“He sees the best in people and has the personality to bring a positive, yet honest and realistic, attitude to every situation. His realness earns the trust of students, families and coworkers. George is an inspiration and mentor to new and seasoned staff members. He is admired for his kindness, dedication, resourcefulness and wisdom. In the words of one of his students, ‘he is very generous and he thinks of everyone and not himself.’”
Armstrong’s wife, Linda, is the Challenge Mountain Program Director. “We are fortunate to have both Linda and George as part of our Challenge Mountain team,” Looze explains. “Their energy and dedication make Spirit Day Camp and all Challenge Mountain programs successful.”
Each year, Challenge Mountain connects over 1,800 children, youth and adults with special needs to life-enhancing recreational opportunities. Participants gain personal fulfillment through a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of acceptance that translates positively into their everyday lives. Programs are not just about having fun — these experiences create positive individual and group development, while building social
Donations Make Challenge Mountain Programs Possible
Challenge Mountain just wrapped up its Spirit Day Camp 2020 fundraising campaign at the end of August exceeding the $30,000 goal, raising $31,464 from 37 donors. Individual donations ranged from $80 to a $10,000 grant from DTE. “This generosity makes it possible to plan in advance for the 2020 summer camp. We are so grateful for every gift,” Looze adds. “Now, we are working on launching our year-end appeal in October that helps to fund over 50% of our year-round adaptive recreational programming. It’s an exciting time of year.”
Challenge Mountain is a non-profit 501c3 organization established in 1984 as the first adaptive skiing program in norther Michigan. Today, Challenge Mountain provides year-round adaptive recreation for individuals living with disabilities. Challenge Mountain also operates a Resale Store in Boyne City. For more information about programs, volunteering or donating, visit CHALLENGEMTN.org, or call 231.582.1186.
PICTURED: George and Linda Armstrong