At his Living Resources residence in Schenectady where he has lived for 25 years, Carey Walker proudly modeled a bracelet he made by threading small plastic beads on nylon string. It was a work of art, featuring the entire alphabet. Carey, who was born in Jamaica, enjoys being in the great outdoors, going out for burgers and ice cream, and listening to music, particularly the reggae sound of Bob Marley.
Of all his hobbies, he says that creating bracelets is his favorite. He has been making them since he was seven years old, has perfected his craft for well over 50 years and naturally has become quite good. “You go in and out … in and out,” he explained. It is one of the many activities he enjoyed when he attended Camp Jened as a teenager.
Camp Jened was a summer camp for people with a range of disabilities in the Catskill Mountains during the 1960s and 1970s. It is the setting of the movie, “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution,” which is currently airing on Netflix. The documentary showcases a group of teens with disabilities who met at a summer camp and built a movement advocating for greater equality. It was recently nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
Carey recently shared some personal highlights of his four-week long adventure at Camp Jened. He said he rode a bus with other campers to get upstate from New York City. During that time, he explored art activities, played basketball, and went swimming. He remembered enjoying delicious food such as; French toast, pancakes, eggs, hot dogs, and hamburgers. In the evenings, they roasted marshmallows over a fire and sang folk songs like “Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water.” He even had a girlfriend named Maria. “She was really cute,” he reminisced.
While at Camp Jened, Carey washed cars for the counselors – for a small fee. He smiled proudly when sharing, “I had a box that said ‘The car wash is 25 cents.’” Like any good businessman, Carey wanted to do a really good job and get the cars extra clean. Jim LeBrecht, fellow Camp Jened alumni and director of the movie “Crip Camp,” recalls Carey’s car washing enterprises in a Facebook thread. “I remember that he offered to wash the counselors’ cars. And he did. With soap and bleach, destroying the paint on them all.” The Camp Jened page responded by saying, “Carey Walker–at least his heart was in the right place!”
When asked if he would go back to Camp Jened, Carey said “Nah, I’m too old now.” But if he could go back time, he would absolutely do it over again. He said, “It was good.”