A Summer to Remember: Local Children with Special Needs Get to Experience Camp for Free

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Summer camps are in full swing across the nation and a local camp is offering a unique experience to campers with disabilities.

From rock climbing to zip lining, a group of children with special needs is not letting anything stop them from having an unforgettable summer!

“The first thing they do is make friends! And that is very important to them,” shared Joyce Dove, Rotary Youth Camp Executive Director.

The Rotary Youth Camp provides an overnight camp for children with disabilities.

“We have special needs here that range from Down Syndrome, Autism all across the spectrum. We have some with Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy,” explained Dove.

Rotary Youth Camp was founded in 1974 by the Rotary Clubs in District 6940. Now in their 25th year, Dove says, each year it’s all about giving the children a “normal,” fun camp experience. “Some of the campers that are here this week have even been coming for like 20 years. So, they feel like this is part of their summer. It the permanent part of their summer”

“I know my favorite moment here was we had a little girl in an electric chair that we had to actually carry up the zip line and we let her go down the zipline,” shared Robert Smith, Counselor.

Smith said he knew the moment he saw the little girls face that they were making an impact in her life. “Her face was just amazing she was smiling the whole way down,” said Smith. “And when she got to the bottom, she wanted to do it again.”

There are 47 kids are at camp this week. This is the last of three terms.

The camp is a one to one ratio, meaning that each camper is given their own personal camp counselor.

“It gives them a tremendous sense of accomplishment to be doing something like that and they want that like all of us do. They want to feel successful like we are able to control our own environment,” said Dove.

One of the best parts about this camp is that it’s completely free to the campers. The parents don’t have to pay a dime for their kids to attend.

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