Cynthiana shines at Camp Courageous

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Special needs camp benefits from local volunteers

Becky Barnes,


About 200 miles south in Scottsville, Kentucky, is a summer camp that has drawn attention and volunteers from Cynthiana and Harrison County on a regular basis.
This summer, however, has been an exceptional year as six individuals have contributed to The Center for Courageous Kids with their time and/or expertise.
Dr. Amy Mashburn, who has volunteered at the camp since its opening in 2008, took on the role of camp physician and has been at the camp every week, with about 36 hours at her Cynthiana home, in between the different but specific camps.
Mashburn, who retired from her own allergy/asthma practice in 2015, said Camp Courageous was designed for kids with special needs or even life-threatening illnesses.
She first began volunteering during asthma week and was soon hooked.
This year, she pulled her son Christopher, who is a pharmacy tech and attends UK, into the mix, along with Matt and Rachel Harney, both of whom are pharmacists.
They have worked together to initiate a pill packaging system for campers to ensure the campers’ safety.
Mashburn said Harney uses a similar packaging system at Clinic Pharmacy in Cynthiana. She said that prior to the new system, campers would receive their medications in condiment cups.
Mashburn said she was always a little concerned about missing something, which spurred her to seek out a better way of administering medications.
There are six weeks of independent camping and three weeks of family camps. At the family camps, parents are responsible for administering medications.
The other six weeks, the Harneys and/or Christopher handled setting up the pill packages on opening day. The process took about five hours.
Another young Cynthiana man contributed to simplifying the weekly packaging of campers’ pills.
Mashburn said a pill tray was available for purchase at about $200 each. She said she told Elliot Rognstad, a 2017 HCHS graduate and who is pursuing a career in machining through a technical school in  Morehead, about the tray that was needed.
She supplied the plastic and Rognstad created a better tray design using a 3D printer.
Two college students from Cynthiana served as camp counselors this summer, Emma Darnell and Alan Cabrera, who are both pre-med students. Cabrera was a previous camper himself having been through one of Mashburn’s asthma camps.
Mashburn was very complimentary of the camp and what it provides to children who wouldn’t otherwise get to have the camp experience.
“It’s a pretty incredible place,” she said, adding that she is trying to get an affiliation with the UK College of Pharmacy and Sullivan College of Pharmacy in Louisville.
Over the last 10 years, Harrison County has sent 66 different campers.
The camp welcomes children, between 7 and 16 years old, who have been diagnosed with any number of different illnesses, some of which are asthma, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, heart/cardiovascular disease, blood disorders, muscular dystrophy, ostenogensis imperfecta, sickle cell, spina bifida and spinal muscular atrophy.
Camp Courageous is a not-for-profit medical camping facility. It was founded by the late Betty Turner Campbell who lost her own son following a 17-year battle with cancer.
She wanted to create a place where kids living with illnesses could have a respite for their day-to-day struggles.
According to its website, the camp has served over 25,000 campers from 45 different states and 10 foreign countries.
Campbell built the camp on her father’s 168-acre farm in Allen County. It features an indoor aquatic complex, equestrian riding arena, bowling alley, gym with rock climbing wall, music room and lodge.
“I  love being with the kids,” Mashburn said. There are so many things that they think they can’t do and then we show them how we can work them in. It’s really a phenomenal place to work.”
For more information about The Center for Courageous Kids, visit their website at courageouskids.org.