NORMAN — The excitement of summer camp is no longer off limits to local children with special needs, thanks to J.D. McCarty Center’s upcoming Camp ClapHans.
Archery, horseback riding, arts and crafts, canoeing, fishing, yoga, hiking, swimming and s’mores are all on the agenda during the inaugural six weeklong residential camps for children ages 8 to 16 with developmental disabilities beginning June 9 and ending July 26.
“You know what our goal is? We want our kids with special needs to be able to experience all the joys of camp that other kids their age get to experience,” said Sharla Bardin, J.D. McCarty Center public information manager. “But we also look at it, too, as another way to help the kids learn a new skill and meet other kids and really just be willing to try something new that they didn’t think they could do.”
Campers and their families got a peek into the camping fun during an open house Saturday at the camp, located on the south side of the center’s property in Norman at 2002 E. Robinson St.
The camp is an outreach project of the center and features two cabins and an activities building next to an 11-acre lake. Sixty-eight campers currently are registered.
Each session has its own theme like “Heart of the Wild” or “Beat of a Different Drum” and focuses on a different disability such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, physical disabilities, autism, intellectual disabilities, feeding disorders and sensory issues.
Bardin said all campers have a staff buddy with them at all times to ensure the children feel safe and comfortable. A full-time nurse, registered dietitian, physician and J.D. McCarty Center’s therapists and psychologists are all on-hand to ensure well-being.
“We just want families to know when their kids are here, they’re going to be safe,” Bardin said. “They’re going to have a great time.”