Remarks: Camp Shriver 1966

Thank you to volunteers and Camp Shriver staff: June 30, 1966

I want to express my deep appreciation to Sandy Eiler, etc. I want to also especially thank the volunteers who have worked literally from morning till night for five weeks with great enthusiasm, determination, and ability. Many of you are asking yourself, was it worth while? Did I really do anything for my child? And my answer to you is a very strong yes.

First of all, the Senate Wives who came out here to visit for four hours, have called me to say they are going to try to get camping and recreation programs started in their states.

They are leaders in their areas. They can get camps going. In Maryland, we have five camps for mentally retarded children. Five years ago there were no public camps for the mentally retarded. These five camps are a direct result of people visiting this camp, seeing what the mentally retarded can do and how teenagers can help them. You should take great satisfaction that you are largely responsible for these new camps.

This is one across the country where foundation camps have been started; other private groups are opening up new recreation programs for the mentally retarded. Finally, whether your child has improved is a crucial question to each one of you. Let me say I think all of you have noticed that your child has learned to do something. Three days ago I noticed a boy making a table. He nailed the legs to the table top and then painted it. This morning I received a letter from his mother saying --.

Some of you have gotten your child into the water when he was too frightened before. Maybe he didn't learn to swim, but the important point is to take the first step. His parents or his gym teachers who thought he just couldn't learn much, now see that he can learn the preliminaries of swimming...your teaching has had a radar effect. Many people will have a new idea of the numerous things John can do if he can learn to go into the water, maybe he can learn to swim also. You have helped both the parents and the child.

Finally, I hope that all of you are not tired, will not give up on the wonderful work you have done. I hope you will take the same enthusiasm, the same determination and skill and help the mentally retarded all winter. If you don't want to continue to work with the mentally retarded, I hope you will help underprivileged children here in Washington. Project Headstart needs volunteers for children in the fifth and sixth grades to be tutored so they won't become dropouts.

We run a winter recreation program for the mentally retarded and need volunteers --etc. I hope you will join a group in your high school and if they don't have one, form a group yourselves and work at least once every week. If you have trouble finding projects call or write to me at the Kennedy Foundation here in Washington.

This country is at war today. 18 year old boys are fighting in Vietnam every day, 18 hours a day for their country. You are two or three years younger but you too can do something for your country now.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "God gives too each of us the choice between truth and repose. Take which you please, you cannot have both." You have not chosen repose for the last five weeks. I hope you will not all next winter. Good luck all year and thank you.