What started as a few casual conversations between Fairfield DD employees and local park’s managers has resulted into not one, but TWO, all-abilities outdoor day camp options being offered this summer in Fairfield County.
Lancaster Parks and Recreation has created a more casual week of camp for kiddos of all abilities, ages 6 to 14. Nature classes, zany songs, outdoor activities, a dance, and creating friendships in the beautiful surroundings of Alley Park are just some of the memories campers will create.
Called It’s a Camp Thing—The Red Camp, this new camp will offer two separate sessions, June 13 to 15 and July 11 to 13. Basic accommodations have been made to accommodate mobility and medical issues and counselor training is being provided by Fairfield DD.
Geneva Hills, just a few miles south of Alley Park, also will open its camps this summer to children of all abilities. Their All Abilities Day Camp program is open to campers age 7 to 13, but children outside the age range may also be considered.
Each camp is a week long and runs from 9 am to 3 pm. Activities will include boating/kayaking, swimming, hiking, outdoor education, gaga ball, yard Yahtzee, crafts, team-building and more. A faith-based camp, Geneva Hills will offer camps for five weeks: June 5– 9; June 19—23; June 26– 30; July 10—14; and July 17—21. Aids, provided by the parents or guardians, are welcomed to attend at no additional cost. Accommodations for mobility devices, including a pool lift, are in place and Fairfield DD has taken the camp counselors through disabilities training. The cost for a week-long camp is $200 and includes meals and all materials.
Both Alley Park and Geneva Hills offer special discounts for families with more than one camper. Additional services may also be offered so make certain to speak with an administrator before registration.
Fairfield DD is not only encouraged to see the all abilities offerings in local camps emerging, but is playing a key role in the training of camp staff and administrators. Training includes basic information on disabilities, scenario discussion, questions and answers. In addition, Fairfield DD staff will be available throughout the summer to address any needs that may arise during the camps.
“Every child should be included so they can all enjoy the rewards of summer camping,” said Fairfield DD Superintendent John Pekar. “We know it is vital to see every camper as a child first. At the same time, we know that children are different from one another. Inclusion means anticipating those differences—whether they are differences in ability or otherwise—and then planning to include all children. Becoming more inclusive is a proactive planning strategy.”
Locally, the camps are filling up. In fact, Geneva Hills has reported that roughly half of their registered campers this summer happen to be children with disabilities. Though unprecedented locally, all-ability programming is being implemented more and more around the country. Fairfield DD believes this is essential if people with differences of any kind are to be “of” the community, not simply just “in” the community.
Congratulations to everyone who has helped to create camps that are accessible to everyone. We wish you much laughter, much sunshine, and very few bug bites!
Lancaster Recreation and Parks: 740. 687-6651
Geneva Hills: 740.746.8439