SUGARLOAF TWP. — When it was Justin Olenginski’s turn to bowl, helper Brittany Lippert held the teen’s hands and guided him up over a step to the lane, before helping him send a bowling ball toward the pins. The ball rolled slowly, and stopped several feet short of its goal.
Then volunteer Carmen Evans had an idea, guiding 17-year-old Justin, from Shavertown, into a sitting position at the edge of the lane. That made it easier to propel the ball and to feel vibrations from the wooden floor.
With that strategy, he knocked down some pins.
“Way to go, Justin!” a few kids called out.
On Thursday Justin was among a group of about 10 teenage campers from Camp Sight, a program sponsored by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind, who spent the afternoon bowling at Valley Lanes along Route 93.
The two-week day camp gives youngsters who are blind or visually impaired a chance to enjoy all sorts of activities, including yoga, kayaking, horseback riding, ice skating, visiting a nature preserve and shopping for back-to-school supplies.
As she laced up her bowling shoes last week, 16-year-old Raina Long, of Wilkes-Barre, said she was looking forward to the satisfying sound of pins crashing down.
“It reminds me of a thunderstorm,” she said. “When I was younger and there was a thunderstorm my parents would say it’s ‘God bowling.’”
During their bowling outing some could see the pins at the end of the lane better than others, but all of the campers seemed to enjoy hearing them fall down.
“It’s cool,” Raina said.
Kayla McDonough, 16, of Carbondale echoed that sentiment, in between helping 13-year-old Madison Carlsson, of Trucksville, get into the right position to send a ball down the lane, and taking a turn herself.
Camp Sight, which is for designed for 11- to 18-year-olds, and Camp Sight Junior, which is for 5- to 10-year-olds, are supported by donations and offered free to children who are blind or visually impaired.
In addition to the summer day camp experiences, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind offers young people a chance to join the Insight Kids Club of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
That club holds occasional field trips, such as a recent adaptive, hands-on visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and has monthly meetings that offer learning opportunities and a chance to socialize.
“The kids wanted to be with their friends more often,” said Amy Feldman, development director from the Association for the Blind. “Now they can get together every month.”
For more information about the Insight Kids Club of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Camp Sight or Camp Sight Junior, call the Association for the Blind at 570-693-3555 or visit wilkesbarreblind.com.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT