For 30 Years,
Our Mission has been built on Four Pillars of Service
To provide a 6-day, traditional and recreational overnight camp experience for children, teenagers, and young adults challenged by physical, emotional and mental disabilities. The campers in our programs are able to enjoy all of the fun and traditions of a recreational camp, from sleeping in our bunkhouses, and dining and singing in our Social Hall, to participating in mail call and art projects in our Pavilion, to Cane Pole fishing on our dock, and swimming in our pool. Plus, Camp I Am Special creates new traditions! Each week we feature a Special Event, like a horse drawn carriage ride through our nearly hundred acres of private riverfront property, or an interactive petting zoo with animal performances, or watching a school marching band play on our Outdoor Stage! Campers are able to experience these traditions and activities because of our Buddy and Group Leader Programs.
To provide a challenging and rewarding service opportunity for high school and college students. Our Buddy Program provides 24-hour, one-on-one care and companionship to each camper, so each Buddy participant must be a high school student who has been actively involved in community service and volunteerism, expressed an interest in serving the needs of persons with disabilities, and has successfully completed our screening, training, and testing requirements. Our Group Leader Program provides extensive and effective, hands-on leadership and supervision for our buddies and their campers, so each Group Leader participant must be enrolled in college, have a minimum of three years experience as a Buddy, and is CPR, First Aid, Lifeguard Rescue, and Professional Crisis Management (PCM) Certified.
To provide a deserving respite for families and caregivers of persons challenged by physical, emotional and mental disabilities. For most camper families and care-givers, these six days often are the only days of respite they have each year. The environment we provide is one that family members feel assured of their campers well being. This level of comfort allows for the true rest and relaxation they deserve.
To promote the charitable mission of the Church by encouraging the stewardship of persons, both lay and religious, from our Diocese and its Parishes. Camp I Am Special provides many opportunities for charitable gifts of time, talent, and resources.Whether you are Catholic or not, anyone who wishes to be involved in our programs by providing financial support, services and supplies, and the giving of their time as a volunteer is welcomed.
Camp I Am Special Camper Amenities
Our camp directors and group leaders provide a wide variety of fun-filled opportunities for campers. Therapeutic activities are designed to match the pace and ability of each camper. Positive development is nurtured in a non-competitive atmosphere. In addition to activities listed below, we also feature many special events. Each summer our camps enjoy a special theme that is unique and all activities support the theme.
Swimming is one of the most popular activities among campers; we also make it adaptive and lots of fun. A special buddy check system is used to ensure safety. Our Group Leaders are Lifeguard / CPR certified as well as one of our Medical staff will attend swim time.
Our music program awakens the hidden abilities of campers through participation in singing camp songs, and the playing of various musical instruments. Campers can find their own musical voice and the opportunity to enjoy self-expression. We will make a fun group music video by lip sinking to music, wearing popular wild wigs, fun hats, and inflatable music instruments. We will become Rock Stars for 30 minutes once a week.
For campers with Autism- This summer we will offer a Sensory Room during each week of camp. This room by our cabins is an air conditioned and set up for comfort. This room is staffed with a Group Leader and is a place where your camper along with the Buddy can go to relax and calm down through touch, sight, and sound. This is a calming and controlled environment away from noises of daily camp activities. We will have a wheel projector, bubble lamps, sight and touch sensory section, Bubble & Play dough centers.
Arts and Crafts
Our arts & crafts program targets the camper's creativity. Last summer we made hand prints similar to those on the Walk of Fame, created a ceramic personalized popcorn bowl, designed a fabric tote bag, designed a photo frame for a picture of the camper with his buddy, and numerous star studded craft projects.
Our social hall has seen some of the finest camper talent shows around. Last year we offered a twice a week drama class where we practiced acting lines and learned dramatic acting style. Our campers learned lines from plays and created their own. Drama allows for spontaneity and an opportunity for self-expression to be enjoyed by all campers.
Pony and Carriage Rides, with A Petting Zoo, Too
Our campers enjoy the petting zoo and learning about different animals. Campers can also choose to take a pony ride with their buddy.
We have a covered patio with a nice selection of sporting equipment, a playground, handicap acceptable swings, and open fields. Non-competitive games are planned. Campers are encouraged and assisted to participate in these sports to the extent of their capabilities: basketball, volleyball, soccer, miniature golf, inside bowling and tennis. Last summer we had yoga class once a week. This class is specially designed for persons with disabilities.
We would LOVE to borrow your time and talents,
would YOU love to be a part of Camp I Am Special?
Below are just a few of the ways you can support our programs.
Our buddies are high school and college students who volunteer for one week at our sleep away camps. It is a challenging week, and our buddies are charged with the task of caring for one camper 24/7. The reward is great — in challenging yourself, making new friends, forming a friendship with a camper, and earning 120 service hours. Click here to learn more about how to become a Camp I Am Special Buddy.
Be a Camp Leader
Our group leaders are experienced buddies who have finished at least one year of college. We look for leaders strong in leadership. Group leaders are asked to apply to work all 7 session of Camp I Am Special. They will be trained in CPR, AED, lifeguarding, behavior management, crisis management, activity supervision, and directing. Each group leader will alternate between a week at camp 24/7 and a week coming out to camp to run activities. All group leaders all have to attend a week long training. Apply now to be a Camp I Am Special Group Leader.
Be a Kitchen Director
Coordinate the meals donated each week, purchase and prepare the meals that are not donated. We are fortunate to have 400 adults come out to camp each summer, many to purchase, prepare, and serve a lunch or dinner. The Kitchen Director coordinates these meals and prepares snacks and breakfasts. Apply now to be a Camp I Am Special Volunteer.
Be an On-Site Guest Director
Prepare for a week of camp as the on-site guest director, implementing activities set forth by the ministry office while assisting buddies and campers throughout the week. With group leaders there to help, it is truly a directive position. Our weekly guest Directors are asked to prepare for evening buddy meetings, come with some icebreakers for the week, and bring their own creativity to their session. Some directors implement encouragement systems like buddy/camper mail or superlative awards and inspirational notes & activities. Apply now to be a Camp I Am Special Volunteer.
Be an Activity Volunteer
Through the main office number ( 904) 230-7447, you may connect with an on-site director to choose a week to volunteer. Activity volunteers run arts & crafts, music sessions (we ALWAYS need guitar-players!), PE activities, and other isolated events like fishing. The general times are 12:00 pm -4:00 pm each day. Apply now to be a Camp I Am Special Volunteer.
Join our Fundraising Committees
We would like to host fundraising events and need a committee volunteer to work the events, advertise, procure silent auction items, create decorations, plan menus, and invite their friends to attend and support camp. Apply now to be a Camp I Am Special Volunteer.
Help out Behind The Scenes- gather items from our Wish list
Make a monetary donation, send a giftcard for camp supplies (Target, WalMart, and Publix are preferred), create a small gift for buddies (a special snack or a little pack of candy with some inspirational words), or send in baked goods for a kitchen director to use throughout the week. We have a wish list of items we always need that is updated monthly.
IF YOU HAVE A SPECIAL GIFT OR TALENT TO SHARE WITH CAMP I AM SPECIAL, WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.
If you think of other ways to help Camp I Am Special, please call 904.230.7447 or contact us.