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Crutches don't hamper camp experience





Participants at Fort Hays State University High Plains Music Camp don't seem to mind carrying their instruments on their backs while making their way around campus.

Sierra Burk is packing something extra this week -- a cast on her right leg.

The 13-year-old La Crosse girl broke her ankle while sliding back to first base in a softball game July 9 and was fitted with a cast July 12. Two days later, Burk checked in to the annual music camp, in its 66th year, along with two friends from school, Addie Kershner of Rush Center and Taylor Morgan of La Crosse.

Niether the cast, the crutches nor the clarinet have seemed to slow her down.

Camp officials offered to Burk the use of a golf cart to get around on campus, but she declined.

"I wanted to be able to walk with my friends," she said simply.

Burk is able to use elevators in the buildings on campus, save for occasionally having to master a few steps in McMindes Hall, her home-away-from-home for the week.

"Going down to the cafeteria or out the front (door)," Burk said. "But that isn't a big deal."

Burk's mom, Sarah Burk, said her daughter has been having problems with her ankle recently, and they thought at first her latest injury was a severe sprain.

An MRI a few days after the accident revealed a fracture and ligament damage, and the Burks learned Sierra would be on crutches for at least four weeks.

"I told her I was sure we could get our money back (from the camp)," Sarah Burk said. "But she wouldn't hear of it."

Now, Sierra -- who also has participated in volleyball and basketball camps at FHSU -- is busy practicing this week for Friday's and Saturday's concerts.

"This is my first time here," Sierra said of the music camp. "And it's one of my favorite camps."

"Her leg gets swollen, being up and around so much during the day, and the cast is uncomfortable," Sarah Burk said of her daughter. "But she hasn't complained about anything except that her arms are sore from the crutches."

Another area student who is using crutches to get around this week is 12-year-old Cameron Karlin from Hays.

He broke his foot in a fall at the lake earlier this summer and was cleared to start putting weight on it just before the start of camp.

But, "with all the walking at camp, he's still using his crutches (this week)," said Cameron's mom, Leslie Karlin.

Like Sierra, Cameron carries his instrument, an oboe, on his back. Also like Sierra, this is Cameron's first try at the music camp, and Mom has been impressed.

"The caliber of the teachers is very impressive," Leslie Karlin said. "I'll definitely be sending him again."

And next year, Cameron -- who attends camp during the day but stays at home at night -- wants to be even more involved.

"With him being on crutches, this has worked perfect this year," Cameron's mom said. "But next year, he wants to stay on campus all week."