Did you go to camp as a child?
I wasn’t a big outdoorsy kid, but camp was part of every summer. Camp Sandy Cove. Camp Haluwasa. Camp Sankanac. Word of Life. There were also Pioneer Girl weekends at Camp Cherith and youth group camps. I spent a summer working at a camp in Virginia as a teenager.
Crafts, swimming, hikes, games, canoeing, horseback-riding and archery. Days were filled with laughter and new friends and snack shop (if you hadn’t spent all your money at the beginning of the week). There were counselors to idolize or create silly songs about. Or both.
Our counselors have bunions,
Have noses like pickled onions,
Have faces like squashed tomatoes
And walk like a duck.
For hours we sang that, and other verses of it, as we enjoyed a multiday hike and camping trip as part of a two-week camp at Word of Life. Funny the things that stick with you. That is the sum of my memories of the two weeks!
Camp was a vital part of summer—looked forward to all spring and reminisced about all fall.
But what if you are a child with disabilities?
Does this become one more thing children with physical or emotional challenges need to miss out on?
Not if they live here in Lancaster or one of the surrounding counties.
Aaron’s Acres began 20 years ago to provide a day camp experience for children with disabilities. It served 11 children its first year. Last year it provided camp memories for 200, ages 5 to 21.
No child has ever been turned away for the severity of their disabilities. The camps do, however, max out every summer.
Aaron’s Acres works because of an elaborate support system with a staff to child ratio of 1:1 or 1:2. In order to accept more campers, they need more “buddies,” volunteers between the ages of 14 and 17, who spend the day one-on-one with a camper, serving as a positive role model. They need college students studying social work, special education, or various therapy disciplines to work as counselors over a group. And they need group leaders—experienced professionals—to shepherd the counselors and buddies.
Do you or does someone you know have the skills and gifts to work with Aaron’s Acres this summer?
Do you know children who need to experience the joys of camp—and parents who need the encouragement of seeing their children blossom in a “normal” childhood ritual?
Do you see the value of an organization like Aaron’s Acres and want to help support their 20th year? I’m privileged to be part of Aaron’s Acres Dream Makers, a group committed to pooling our modest yearly donations to fund a special project for the organization. I’d love to have you join me as a Dream Maker!
In celebration of their 20th anniversary, Aaron’s Acres has a slate of special events—from golf and volleyball tournaments to a Rita’s scoop night and a Panera fundraiser (yum! cinnamon crunch bagel!)—that will provide support for scholarships and programming needs.
And if you would like to make a camp visit this summer to see Aaron’s Acres in action, I can arrange that for you as well.
Aaron’s Acres tagline—Embracing Possibilities Beyond Disabilities—is lived out every day of the camping season. Join me in making the possibilities possible!
2 thoughts on “The Possibilities of Camp for Everyone”
Thank you Carol for this beautiful article – you have the Aaron’s Acres heart and we are so grateful for your support!!! Thank you!!!!!!
Glad for any little help I can give to raise awareness, Christi!