Bre Baylon knows when a certain time of summer arrives — Camp Prov time.
Her father, Ben Baylon, said it isn’t always easy for 21-year-old Bre to get up in the morning. That’s not the case when she’s anticipating a day at Camp Prov. Now in its 23rd year, the program welcomes children with special needs and their siblings to Everett’s Forest Park during five weeks of fun and friendship.
Bre, who lives in Marysville, was 4 when she started going to Camp Prov. She is no longer one of its kids. She’s back this summer as a volunteer buddy, working with the program’s other young volunteers and unit leaders.
In all, 438 children will attend Camp Prov this summer, about 45 per session, said Jim Phillips, manager of the Providence Children’s Center, part of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. A program of the center, the camp is supported by the Providence General Foundation and the Providence General Children’s Association.
Breanna “Bre” Baylon was born with Down syndrome, or trisomy 21, a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome. People with Down syndrome may have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, distinctive facial features, other physical characteristics and health complications.
“She knows more than what she shows people,” said Brenda Baylon, Ben’s wife and Bre’s mom. “The main issue, she is very shy.”
That shyness was evident Wednesday. Bre quietly answered “yeah” when asked if being a camp helper is fun. From the looks of it, with Bre surrounded by kids in motion, everyone was having fun.
During inside “circle time,” Bre held a small speaker that boomed out camp songs — “We are the dinosaurs, marching, marching” — while kids stomped their feet in Lions Hall.
“For Breanna, summer is not complete without Camp Prov,” Brenda Baylon said.
With morning and afternoon sessions, about 250 volunteers help at camp, most of them high school students. The 23 paid unit leaders, many of them former teen volunteers, are generally college students aimed at careers in health care, occupational therapy and related fields, Phillips said.
Campers have included children with autism, seizure disorder, brain injuries and cerebral palsy.
“This camp is the best,” said Mill Creek’s Megan Pfohl, 20, who attends Boise State University. Now a unit leader, she has helped at Camp Prov for seven summers.
Siena Utt, a 20-year-old University of Washington student from Everett, is also a Camp Prov unit leader, helping with swimming, arts and crafts, sensory play, nature activities and more. She’s interested in a medical or occupational therapy career.
Bre is one of two former campers volunteering this summer, Phillips said. With the camp intended for children ages 18 months to 12 years old, she had “aged out” as a participant. Now, the option of volunteering is open to those 14 and older, he said.
“We want kids to be able to come back. They want to come back,” Phillips said.
Brenda Baylon, a nurse in the Providence neonatal intensive care unit, said her daughter also volunteers every Friday at the Providence Children’s Center. In the past, Bre received services at the center, which has outpatient and clinic programs for children with special needs. “We’re so thankful for Prov,” Bre’s mother said.
Bre attended Marysville Pilchuck High School and an age 18-to-21 life skills program in Lake Stevens. With Special Olympics, she has competed in swimming, track and field, basketball and bowling.
“A typical child” at home, her mom said, Bre enjoys her iPad, friends and the trampoline. The Baylons are also travelers. They visit the Philippines every couple of years to see Bre’s grandmother. They’ve been to France, Portugal and Spain. This summer, national parks were on the itinerary, Glacier in Montana, and Banff and Jasper in Alberta, Canada.
“She’s looking for jobs right now,” said Brenda Baylon, adding that her daughter wants to do clerical work in an office. And after an afternoon at camp, Bre looks forward to going back.
“I’ll say, ‘How was your day?’” Ben Baylon said. She may be worn out by kids and sun, noise and activity, but Bre will reply “Good, Papa.”