This past week I was fortunate enough to get a tour of a special needs camp facility in Georgia. I met up with an old friend of mine from my camp days, Eric Robbins, who is the Executive Director of Camp Twin Lakes. Eric and I were both fortunate to be campers and on staff at Camp Barney Medintz when we were younger. Although our lives have taken different journeys, our love of camp and kids remains the same. We both look back on our younger days as campers and staff as paramount to who we are today. Camp provided friendships, belonging, achievement, community, new skills and leadership for us. We entered Camp Barney Medintz every summer under a sign that said "Every Child Makes Himself Known Through His Doings." And we did. Camp was a place of hard work and of joy. We both agree that we would not be who we are today without our camp experiences.
As I toured the Camp Will-A-Way facility, I was transported back to my own camp days. The beautiful lake, pool, arts and crafts centers and high ropes courses reminded me of how fun it can be to just be a kid at camp. Just walking around the camp made me feel at home again.
Camp Twin Lakes hosts over 3000 special needs campers between its 2 facilities in Rutledge and Winder Georgia. Each week it provides a real camp facility for a special camp such as Camp Sunshine (for children living with cancer), Camp Breathe Easy (for children living with Asthma), Camp Oo-U-La (for children who are burn survivors), Camp Carp Diem (for children with Epilepsy) and many more camps totaling around 30 camps through the summer season.
It is a bit late to be planning for this summer, but it is a great time to visit or consider what you want your future summers to be like for your child. Special needs camps are available throughout the country and it is not too early to start thinking. You can do a search for a particular challenge or go straight to a non profit organization. Many of them hold their own camps. You may want to think about whether you'd like a day camp or overnight camp. Here is a list that might just help you get started: www.campresource.com.
You may also want to check in with your local therapy clinic as well. In addition, many camp directories can give you lists of camps for kids with special needs. But before you go picking, you may want to read a few tips so you pick just the best place and most rewarding summer experience you can find. After all, the other 9 months of the year only exist to get us ready for camp!
- Ilana, Mom, PT