It all began for Andy Wood '92 in the summer '91, and he's been doing it ever since – coming back, summer after summer, to the annual MDA Camp in Brandon.
And every year for more than 25 years, Wood is joined by upwards of 20 Jesuit students and fellow alumni. This year, there were 30 Jesuit-connected camp counselors.
"There is so much fellowship, so much love, so much camaraderie," Wood said. "This is just an amazing week. Truly amazing.''
MDA Camp – a summer camp for children with muscular dystrophy at Rotary's Camp Florida – was from June 24-30 this year.
"We all come initially, in part, because of Jesuit's service hours requirements (for students)," Wood said. "But when you see alums like Adam (Perhosky '08), Austin (Jurado '11), Connor (Bracy '11) and so many others coming back year after year, then you know it's about much more than meeting a requirement.
"MDA summer camp has become so ingrained in my life that when summer camp time rolls around, there is never any doubt as to where I will be."
Bracy is headed to medical school at Virginia in the fall. Perhosky has lived in South Florida for several years. Frankie Wamsley '13 just graduated from Notre Dame and is looking for employment. Yet the pull of MDA Camp brings them all back to Brandon for this week every summer.
The counselors and the campers connect (or re-connect) for a transformative experience and one of the highlights of their year. Each counselor is matched up with a camper for the week, supporting them day and night. Some counselor-camper matches last many years.
The camp is filled with activities such as fishing, swimming, crafts, competitions (including Pinewood Derby), games, a dance, talent show, carnival, and more. For those who serve, helping to provide a week of enjoyment for the youths with muscular dystrophy is rewarding and impactful.
In addition to Bracy, Jurado, Perhosky, Wamsley, and Wood, Jesuit students and alumni who served MDA Camp this year were: Joshua Burke '19, J.P. Collins '17, Max Damm '19, Michael Delano '17, Shane Eilers '17, Joe Epstein '15, Brendenn Flynn '18, Nicholas Haskell '19, Jeffrey Jacob '18, Andrew Jung '19, Christian Jung '18, Gianni Jurado '18, Connor Maloney '18, Justin Martin '11, Brett Nevitt '18, Casey Nouss '18, Jack Henry Nouss '17, George Robbins '18, John Robbins '18, Carlos Ruiz '18, Sergio Ruiz '19, Justas Schillinger '17, Thomas Turner '19, Ralph Vaello '13, and Sean Wickett '16.
Wood, Jesuit's track and field coach and community service director, has seen a few MDA campers become Jesuit students through the years, the latest being Jimmy Grammig '21, who will enroll as a freshman at Jesuit this fall.
"We're with some of our closest friends – campers and counselors alike,” Wood said. “As I reflect back on this most recent MDA Camp, I am filled with pride knowing so many current Jesuit students and alums have just spent a week of their lives making sure their campers had one of the greatest weeks of their year."
View a photo slideshow from MDA Camp 2017 below: