WILLIAMS, Ariz. — When you dip into the energetic room of happy children at the Williams Summer Rec program, the last thing you expect to smell is good food.
But thanks to Camp Civitan and summer workers like Brandon Millspaugh, walking into the Williams Recreation Center is a delight to the senses.
Millspaugh has worked at Camp Civitan for the past 12 years and has been serving food at the Summer Rec program for the past seven summers.
Camp Civitan is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Child Nutrition Program, which provides free meals to low-income children in Williams and nine Phoenix metro locations. The meals are served daily at the Summer Rec program.
Millspaugh began helping serve food when he was just a young teen, and has returned for the past seven summers. He serves breakfast and lunch at Summer Rec, and brings sack lunches to the children on field trip days.
“He started out being a young helper and has just proven himself to be super responsible and super caring about this whole process he goes through every day,” said Summer Rec Director Patti Jackson. “He’s a great kid.”
Jackson said Millspaugh has made many connections with the children and has had an impact on the program.
“He comes with breakfast every morning and lunch, and gets the food over here in the morning super early for field trips, even when we go on a field trip for 120 kids he is here with food for them,” she said. “He has stepped up to the plate and is awesome to the kids, the kids love him.”
Millspaugh said he really enjoys working with the children at Summer Rec.
“I love working with the kids, it’s fun to see all of them grow up,” he said. “I’ve gotten to build relationships with the kids here.”
In addition to transporting and serving food to Summer Rec children, Millspaugh has worked for the past 12 years at Camp Civitan. He currently is a youth activity counselor.
“I just fell in love with the people and kept wanting to come back because of all the relationships I’ve developed with the people,” he said.
Millspaugh said many of the campers return year after year. The program offers camp participants a variety of enriching and fun experiences that promote positive self-esteem and expression, teamwork, socialization and healthy activities.
“People of all ages come up there,” Millspaugh said. “We have different programs, different field trips.”
Millspaugh said it can be challenging working with the special needs campers, but he enjoys it.
“It takes a lot of patience,” he said. “Its hard work, but it’s very rewarding.”
Millspaugh said the campers enjoy arts and crafts, field games, skits, karoke and dances and every week have a field trip.
“This week was Hollywood week, so everyone at the camp is planning out big skits and then on Saturday night we are performing it on the stage here (Williams) for everyone,” he said.
Millspaugh grew up in Anthem and attended Boulder Creek High School. He is the nephew of Camp Civitan CEO Dawn Trapp.
“She got me started working up here, and I just fell in love with it,” he said.
In the fall, Millspaugh will return for his senior year at Arizona State University where he is studying accounting and sports business.
“I’m hoping to work with my uncle in his tax firm in Phoenix,” Millspaugh said. “But I would like to continue working with kids too.”
Camp Civitan is part of the Civitan Foundation, Inc., a Phoenix-based non-profit organization providing statewide high-quality programs that focus on education, nutrition and health, life-skills, socialization, job training and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The 15-acre wheelchair accessible Camp Civitan is one of the largest year-round camps of its kind in the nation and spawned additional programs and services for the developmentally disabled. The camp was created In 1968, as a vision to create a summer experience of adventure for individuals who are often forgotten or shielded from the same adventures many families take for granted was started.
Programs include adaptive educational and physical activities, community field trips, arts and crafts, nutrition classes, gross and fine motor skill training and peer socialization.
The Civitan Foundation, a non-profit 501c3 headquartered in Phoenix, grew from the experiences of Camp Civitan and is now a leading voice in Arizona in providing innovative services to individuals with special needs. Serving nearly 1,200 children and adults with disabilities throughout Arizona, Civitan expanded programming to encompass educational and vocational activities. This expansion was designed to meet the direct needs of families and their loved ones.
In addition to Camp Civitan, the Foundation now includes other locations and services to provide job and life-skill training for members to grow independently, socialize with peers and practice self-sufficiency.