Thanks to Camp Jabberwocky for what it does


To the Editor:

I received this email from my sister, Sharon O’Connor, recounting her trip to pick up a friend at the ferry boat dock. My family has been vacationing on the Island for many years, and have a summer cottage. Every time I go to the Island, I see and hear about special people and events/activities that keep me coming back.

Today, Sharon’s note took me to a new level of being proud to call Martha’s Vineyard my family vacation spot. You people rock. You’ll be hearing from me this summer.

Here is her email:

Bob, When Lily and I arrive at the Vineyard Haven Steamship Authority to pick up Tracy off the 10:45 am ferry, we notice there is an unusual crowd gathering at the base of the dock. College-age kids are dressed in pirate, southern belle, and superman costumes carrying parasols, stuffed parrots, and drums. As the ferry pulls into the dock, this group bursts into song, welcoming in the ferry.

“Hooray, you are finally here! We have missed you so much!”

Then, to our surprise, there is a group leaning over the railing at the front of the boat that sings back to them “We have waited all year and now we are here!”

The ferry lands, and there is a great loud cheer from both groups “We love you! Hurray! Summer is here!” It is at this point, I notice the wheelchairs. At the front railing of the boat, there are about 20 wheelchairs with retarded, severely disabled adults and their caretakers. The singers on the boat were the Camp Jabberwocky campers and their caretakers. The crazy kids on the dock were the camp counselors, singing them in. They were singing songs from last year’s musical. The campers and counselors put on a self-styled, hilarious, amazing musical for the Island that is sold out each year.

I burst into tears.

Tracy’s uncle Dick has cerebral palsy and was one of those in a wheelchair on the boat (with her) coming for his two weeks at Camp Jabberwocky. He was on a 20-year waiting list, and at age 45 finally made it. There is also a waiting list to be a counselor, because this camp is actually a slice of heaven on earth, and counselors come year after year, after college when they have their first jobs, second jobs, even when they are married and have kids of their own.

The Island loves this camp. Businesses donate food and services, private citizens donate their homes and hold huge cookouts for them. The town of Oak Bluffs sets aside a huge section of beach just for the campers. It is the most breathtaking display of kindness and goodwill.

I love this Island

Bob O’Connor