The Developmental Disabilities of Clark County day camp for children allows them to build relationships and have fun — just like any summer camp.
“We help the children have a traditional camp experience,” said Jennifer Rousculp, superintendent of Developmental Disabilities of Clark County. “Even though they have different needs, kids want to be treated the same as everybody else. They want to play with friends, make crafts and swim just like all kids do.”
Camp Journey started because children with developmental disabilities often don’t have the opportunity to go to camp. It is offered to children, ages 5 to 15 and is funded by Developmental Disabilities and administered by the YMCA.
“It’s been a good partnership,” Rousculp said.
The camp started on June 10 and lasts eight weeks. Up to 15 children can participate each day and it is usually full, according to Melissa Dabe, community support supervisor at Developmental Disabilities of Clark County.
“We spend our days swimming, making crafts or playing on the playground,” said Amanda McNier, site coordinator, who has been a staff member for seven years.
Each week there is a theme and activities are done based upon that theme. Nature walks and other field trips are provided, such as trips to the National Museum of the Air Force, Columbus Zoo and Boonshoft Museum. The campers went to Putt-Putt Fun Center on Bechtle Avenue on Thursday.
“It’s just a joy to see how the kids interact with each other,” said Mary Behrens, who has worked with the camp for two years.
Shateek Page, 8, has attended for two years and enjoys every bit.
“(My favorite part is) when all the staff look out for me,” Page said.
Well-trained staff members are there to meet the needs of each child.
“They make everyday worth it,” McNier said. “They can do something that makes you smile.”
Cara Neal has had two children participate and said the staff members are wonderful.
“The staff that works with the kids are so good with the kids … It just comes natural,” Neal said. “It’s not a job for them, it’s something they love.”
Neal’s oldest son attended camp journey for 12 years before he aged out of it.
Camp costs $250 a week for each kid.
“Our mission is to support those with disabilities and their families,” Rousculp said.