by Michael Felak, Graduate Student, PRTM
Our group from the PRTM 455 Advanced Program Planning class was tasked with developing appropriate activities for the campers. We were put in contact with Leslie Conrad and Thomas Martin of the Clemson University Outdoor Lab. They were extremely helpful right from the beginning in what their expectations were of the students and what Camp Sunshine was all about. There were no winners and losers, no first or second place.
Camp Sunshine is a respite camp for people with mental and physical disabilities. The camp provides an opportunity for parents to have a weekend to relax from the daily responsibilities of caring for their special needs child. Camp Sunshine provides a safe, fun atmosphere for these individuals and aims to leave them with an experience that they will not soon forget.
Everyone at Camp Sunshine was a winner and their camp reflected that purpose. Our group devised 5 separate activities that would encompass Camp Sunshine. The main idea that our group developed was the theme, which was entitled: “Turkey Day Getaway.” Some of the activities were heavily influenced by this theme, such as the nametags, scavenger hunt, and the Thanksgiving feast. The goal of the theme was to not only be educational, but to provide a fun atmosphere for all campers and counselors.
All in all, I felt that the camp was a success. We learned just how much preparation goes into a camp like this. It begins with selecting the counselors and planning the activities all the way to when the child is picked up by his or her parents on Sunday afternoon. The coordination of events and campers was excellent. Camp Sunshine was a great place to learn about camp settings and how to accommodate special needs individuals. I am very thankful that I was granted the opportunity to participate in this camp and may continue service to Camp Sunshine in the future.