Forward Focus February
February may be the shortest month of the year, but that just means that we need to pack it FULL! This month we share resources to help us maintain a Forward Focus in February.
- February 7: Scholarships!
- February 14: Contests!
- February 21: Internships!
- February 28: More Opportunities!
In this fourth installment of our “Forward Focus February” series, we explore other opportunities for gaining skills in technology and other areas, making lifelong connections, and pursuing personal growth.
The Helen Diller Vacation home offers blind and low vision students an opportunity to stay on the beach (in New Jersey) and engage in fun activities – both at the home and on the road, including recreational adventures to places like Morey’s Pier, boat rides and the Cape May County Zoo and Park. The staff to child ratio is one-to-five.
The camp is free to children ages 7 -15 with a visual impairment, and campers must be able to feed, clothe, and bathe themselves with limited assistance and be able to walk up and down stairs. Two weeks are dedicated as “sighted sibling weeks,” so that blind/low vision campers can bring a sighted sibling to enjoy the camp with them. Additionally, there is a “reunion week” for students ages 16-20.
There is no charge for the camp or the activities, however, parents are responsible for transportation to and from the camp. Also, students may want to have some extra money with them for souvenirs.
2023 Helen L. Diller Vacation Home Camp Dates (Sunday to Saturday):
Go to the Helen Diller Camp Registration webpage to register.
Camp Merrick and Other Blindness-related Summer Camps
For years, the Maryland School for the Blind has offered summer camps for blind/low vision students. Some of these are sports-oriented (Camp Abilities) and others are focused on building skills and relationships. Details on this summer’s offerings are not yet available, but the Free Bridges Helpdesk will let you know as soon as they are. If you would like for us to contact you directly with camp information updates, please contact the Free Bridges Helpdesk, and we will notify you as soon as information is available!
Other Summer Camps
There are many summer camps available. Some focus on interest areas, like sports, band, etc. Some are connected to religious groups, and others are simply offering a fun time.
Please remember that the Free Bridges Helpdesk is available to support you in non-academic settings like a summer camp. Please reach out to us to let us help you tear down any obstacles in your way.
For High School Juniors Only: Boys State and Girls State
Boys State and Girls State are opportunities that allow rising high school juniors to engage in a nonpartisan curriculum where students assume the roles of government leaders, campaigning in mock parties (often called “Federalists” and “Nationalists”) to become mayors and county and state officials of their Boys or Girls State. In Maryland, the program is a weeklong immersive learning experience, held on a college campus where students live in “cities” within a dormitory-like setting. The learning, experience, memories, and friendships last a lifetime.
Both programs request information about one’s disability so that they may meet your needs, and the Bridges Helpdesk is available to help them do so. Please contact the Free Bridges Helpdesk for anything, and please share our information with the Boys’ State or Girls State organizers. We are here to help; it’s what we do!
Editor’s note: I participated in Girls State between my junior and senior years of high school on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I was apprehensive at first, but this experience is one that I still treasure. Living on a college campus for a week was fun, but the program provided so much more. We focused on ideas and ideals, not politics. I heartily recommend this experience to all!
Eligibility: Female high school junior in 2022-2023 and have at least one more semester of your senior year to go.
Dates and time: June 18-23, 2023 at Salisbury University (Salisbury, Maryland)
Cost: Typically, tuition is free because your local American Legion Auxiliary Post will support you.
Deadline: April 14, 2023
Girls State Orientation Dates for 2023
- April 1st 10am -Region 4 – Brooklyn-Curtis Bay Unit 187- 1527 Cherry Street, Baltimore, Md. 21227
- April 1st 2pm – Zoom
- April 8th – 10am – Region 5 – Laurel, Maryland Unit 60 – 2 Main Street, Laurel, Md. 20707
- April 8th – Noon- Region 3 – Dundalk Unit 38 -3300 Dundalk Ave, Dundalk, Md. 21222
- April 22nd – 10am – Region 1 – Susquehanna Unit 135 – 300 Cherry Street, Perryville, Md. 21903
- April 22nd – TBD
- April 23rd – Region 6 – Harry White Wilmer Unit 82 – 6330 Crain Hwy, La Plata, Md. 20646
- April 29th – 11am Region 8 – Steadman-Keenan Unit 96 – 18 S. Maple Ave, Brunswick, Md. 21716. ( Make up).
If you are interested, please review, complete, and return the Girls State application form (PDF) as soon as possible – April 14 is the deadline! As always, please feel free to reach out to the Free Bridges Helpdesk for anything!
Eligibility: Male high school junior in 2022-2023 and have at least one more semester of your senior year to go.
Dates and time: June 18-24, 2023 at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD (Subject to change)
Cost: Tuition is free because your local American Legion Post will support you.
Deadline: May 1, 2023.
If you are interested, please review, complete, and return the Boys State application as soon as possible – April 14 is the deadline! As always, please feel free to reach out to the Free Bridges Helpdesk for anything!
Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Bridges Technical Assistance Center’s Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org
- Text or Leave a Voice mail message: (410) 357-1546
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.