Day Camp marking five years of helping kids with disabilities

Volunteers needed for November gathering of Celebrate the Children

By PATTI SELLS | News-Telegram Feature Writer

Oct. 11, 2007 - Celebrate The Children's 5th Annual Fall Fiesta Day Camp serving special needs children throughout Northeast Texas is slated for Saturday, Nov. 3, and caring volunteers are needed to help make this a momentous event.

File Photo

Mark (khaki hat) and Matthew Roberts (brown hat), the twin sons of Craig and Jennifer Roberts of Sulphur Springs, enjoyed fishing at the 2006 Fall Fiesta Day Camp.

�It is hard to believe we have reached this major milestone � five years of caring service to our special needs kids,� said founder Kris Wright.

Celebrate the Children, located on a 100-acre working ranch outside of Commerce, has come to be known throughout the area as a place of nurturing and a safe haven for campers with various disabilities.

Children with such wide-ranging challenges as Down syndrome, autism, blindness, deafness, spina bifida, mental retardation and cerebral palsy can come to experience a day of country recreation they would otherwise rarely have the opportunity to enjoy. 

�Our kids have come to depend on us to provide this special day,� said Wright.

And, according to Wright, she has come to depend on volunteers to make the organization a viable and successful program.

�Without the help of volunteers, this camp would not be possible,� she emphasized.

Volunteers come from both local and surrounding communities and range from college students, special education teachers, and those who simply have big hearts and a desire to help others.

Those who wish to volunteer can send an e-mail to corp@texaschild.org to buddy up with a special needs child, according to Wright. Volunteer consent forms are due by Oct. 26.

"Several children have already registered, so we expect a big crowd of enthusiastic campers," said Wright. 

The camp works on a “buddy system” where volunteers work one-on-one with campers for the entire day at activities that include arts and crafts, face painting, feeding farm animals, fishing, hay rides, horseback riding, campfire cookouts and sing-a-longs.

�Our mission is to work with physically and mentally challenged children through day, weekend and summer outdoor camps throughout the year,� explained Wright. �Through the camps, they experience a sense of adventure, and a new appreciation of nature and its inhabitants.�

According to Wright, not only are friendships formed and self-esteem and personal independence enhanced, but also social skills and the development of communication and cooperation within a group setting are improved.

Celebrate The Children provides campers with many benefits, said Wright. 

�This camp allows them the opportunity to learn new things, discover gifts they have, as well as develop social and recreational skills,� Wright said. �All of these things enhance personal independence while giving them a greater appreciation of nature and their surroundings.�

An application fee of $16 ensures a child's reservation at the camp. Scholarships are available for those who need help covering the cost of a camper. 

More information for campers and volunteers, or about making donations, is available by calling 903-886-8365 or on the Internet at www.texaschild.org.

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