A camp for adolescents with disabilities run by a partnership between Georgia Southern University, the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department and the Therapy SPOT has turned out to be a winning combination for all involved.
Camp RAD – Recreation for Adolescents with Disabilities – is a free day camp held during the first four weeks of June for 10- to 20-year-old young people. For four days during each week in June, not only do the participants get to take part in fun and safe physical activities in a group setting, students learn how to live a healthier lifestyle and learn various social, life and community involvement skills.
Dr. Gavin Colquitt is one of the founders of the camp. His specialty is Adapted Physical Education and he is an assistant professor at GSU in the School of Health and Kinesiology. Colquitt said when he first had the idea for the camp three years ago, he realized then that opportunities for kids with disabilities, especially sports, was limited during the summer.
Joining forces with other Georgia southern faculty in the areas of Child and Family Development, Public Health and Therapeutic Recreation; Special Education teachers; others in the community and parents of those with disabilities, Camp RAD planners mold the program to meet the needs of each individual.
“Kids receiving services have specific therapeutic goals, but also goals that the parents want to see,” Colquitt said. “We ask parents to fill out a detailed information sheet, answering questions like, ‘What makes their child exceptional?’ and ‘What three goals do you have for your child?’
“We’re really focused on each camper.”
Volunteers and camp staff help the children play basketball – indoors if the heat is severe – and outdoors, softball and various other Special Olympics-style games and relays.
University student volunteers gain valuable hands-on experience to further their college education. Adolescents with disabilities get moving and have fun, but gain other important skills as well. And, parents are thrilled that their children have this camp experience.
Monica Van Wagenen, mother of one of the campers, is delighted that her daughter can take part in the camp. She said, “Our difficulty is, school ends and then there’s summer – a big gap, a really long gap of time without socialization. Camp fills that gap.
“Camp helps them learn to interact in groups. Sometimes my daughter is shy and holds back when she’s in a new setting. But when she walks in, kids call her name. It’s a very welcoming, warm atmosphere.”
Van Wagenen went on to say, “My daughter’s fine and gross motor skills are challenged. One thing I love about camp is the emphasis on physical activity, and it’s adapted to their needs.
“It’s wonderful that they see each child and their needs and tailor the program to meet their needs.”
Just before the end of one day of camp, the participants shared with each other their answers in an “All About Me” booklet. With a variety of answers to favorite foods, eye color and favorite things to do, Dr. Colquitt pointed out, “Everybody here is different. And it’s OK to let others know how you are different.”
While next week is the camp’s final one for the summer of 2015, if you would like more information about signing up for next year’s camp, contact Dr. Colquitt at (912) 478-0889.