PRESS RELEASE As published in The Graphic July 2018
Contact: Elizabeth Gertz Looze | Phone: 231.582.1186
With Spirit Day Camp under way this week, Linda Armstrong has been busy organizing and facilitating the day camp for individuals with mental and physical challenges.
While the weeks ahead will prove to be exhausting for Armstrong, she looks forward to working with more than 40 individuals each week to bring some joy into their lives.
She said it is a challenge to watch over the dozens of camp goers and volunteers, making sure everyone is safe and behaving appropriately, but each day is a positive experience for everyone involved.
Armstrong is the program director for Challenge Mountain in Boyne Falls, where disabled people are able to participate in year-round adaptive recreation.
Armstrong has held the position for about five years, but has been involved with the special needs day camp since 1988.
“I just love teaching them,” she said. “I love just being around them — special needs — and watching them grow and have success.”
It is Armstrong’s job to seek out places to perform the recreational activities, whether it is in their own facility or at places like Camp Daggett or Northern Michigan Equine Therapy. She organizes and schedules the various programs that are provided, but perhaps the most important thing she does is impart her selfless, positive energy to those around her.
“Linda has endless energy, a truly compassionate heart and a smile that makes everyday brighter,” said Elizabeth Looze, executive director at Challenge Mountain. “The Challenge Mountain board is amazed and grateful for her and being a part of the Challenge Mountain family.”
Armstrong said she is able to maintain a positive mood even on bad days and she has trained herself to step away from negativity.
This lends itself to working with people who may not have an abundance of joy in their lives, due to a disability.
“A lot of them I think it’s a struggle,” she said. “They’re always told no and they hear all these negatives all the time.”
So, bringing something positive and joyful into their life helps make a lasting impact that they can reflect on and use to achieve more, she said.
Whether it is skiing, equine therapy, making stained glass art, or exploring Camp Daggett’s Adventure Center, Armstrong supports people of all ages with special needs through recreational activities all times of the year.
Her love for recreation and helping disabled people blossomed in her time at Central Michigan University, where she met her husband, George, who also shares the same passions.
“I get excited about everything,” she said about her happy-go-lucky personality. “I really get excited about anything to do with recreation, it’s probably why I went into the field.”
While the residual effects of engaging in recreational activities is not something they advertise at Challenge Mountain, it is perhaps the most important, Armstrong said.
“It’s not necessarily the activity, it’s what comes with the activity,” she said. “The community, the building relationships, building friendships within themselves, with each other, and then the positive success at the end.”
Armstrong belongs to the tight-knit community of special needs individuals, their families and friends, and the volunteers that strive to make life better for them.
While she is determined to make every experience a positive one, there are still challenges and stresses for her, but nothing she can’t overcome.
“If I see a challenge I try to be inspired in how I can help make that better,” she said. Armstrong is inspired by her two kids, her husband and each new day.