ARGOS — Last week, 15-year-old Alexis Hicks, of Argos returned home from what is typically her favorite summertime activity — attending Camp Riley at Bradford Woods in Martinsville.
“She goes every year, this is her seventh or eighth year,” said her grandmother and caregiver, Mary Conley.
Hicks has cerebral palsy and as a result uses a wheelchair and has extremely limited mobility in her arms and legs. At camp, however, she was able to enjoy activities such as water skiing, climbing walls, swimming, piano playing, and making tie-dye items.
“She is exhausted when she comes back, but it is a good time for her,” said Conley. “It’s a break from everything. It’s the only time in the year that she doesn’t stick out because she is different. For 12 days, she’s not different.”
Conley said that she appreciates Hick’s time at Camp Riley each year because her granddaughter has the opportunity to socialize with peers and is responsible to let her camp counselors know her needs.
“It is a very lengthy check-in process and I tell (camp staff) what she will need, but (during camp) she is away from me and is having someone else take care of her,” explained Conley. “It’s good for her to have to tell someone what she needs. (At camp) it is up to her, daily, to make sure they understand.”
Hicks is always eager to go to camp partly because she can reconnect with friends. Although camp counselors change every year, Conley said that Hicks always loves whoever takes care of her for the duration of the camp.
“The only thing she said about this year was that she got sick and tired of hearing Justin Bieber songs,” said Conley, laughing. “She’s not really a big fan of his.”
Conley notices little changes in Hicks each year when the teen returns from her camp experience.
“She always comes back just a little bit more outgoing, and more confident,” said Conley.
This was Hicks’ third year going to the two-week camp, and Conley said that she plans to attend the next level, Venture Camp, next summer. This new experience will include scuba diving, a zipline, and a prom-style event.
“(Hicks) is in a wheelchair and has other special needs,” explained Conley, adding jokingly “Other than that she is a very bright, bratty 15-year-old.”