To many, the sounds, sights and smells of summer bring back a rush of memories of camp. Whether it is in the woods, by the pool, or fun with arts and crafts, camp holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Thanks to Easter Seals, Camp Fairlee, children and adults with a range of disabilities, including autism, can attend a camp and make memories to treasure for years to come.
Jimmy, who has autism and is now 16, has been going to Camp Fairlee every summer since he was 7 years-old. Although his great aunt, Rhonda, was nervous the first year, it has now become a tradition and something the whole family looks forward to doing.
“We have a tradition when we go to camp. We stop at Molly’s Restaurant for dinner on the way. Last year when we stopped there Jimmy knew he was going to camp and got excited,” Rhonda says. “He was telling the waitress ‘I’m going to camp’. He was so happy.”
April is “National Autism Awareness Month”. Easter Seals is taking strides to accommodate the needs of the growing population of people whose lives are touched by autism either personally or by a family member. This year, Easter Seals Camp Fairlee expects to serve about 200 individuals living with autism.
While many individuals with autism attend traditional summer sessions, Easter Seals Camp Fairlee also offers specialized autism summer sessions, which have more than doubled the capacity since its inception. While children with autism enjoy swimming, singing and doing arts and crafts at one of Camp Fairlee’s 1-on-1 respite weeks for children with autism, their parents can take some much needed time off from caregiving.
Jimmy enjoys swimming, arts and crafts and playing basketball while he is at camp. Meanwhile his great aunt and uncle get to take day trips to scout out places they would like to take Jimmy one day, like the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.
“Jimmy loves it at Camp Fairlee. He always wants to stay, I am so happy they are there and that even as an adult he can go there,” Rhonda says. “I always say that Jimmy is like the Christmas present that no one wanted to open because the wrapping was different, but he is amazing. He has taught me so much and I wouldn’t trade one minute of the last 16 years I’ve had with him.”
Easter Seal’s Camp Fairlee outside of Chestertown, Maryland, is the only camp in the region that provides a typical residential camp experience for children and adults with disabilities year-round. Fairlee offers week-long camp sessions throughout the summer, Travel Trips throughout the year and weekend respite/retreat programs from August through May. Learn more about Camp Fairlee at www.de.easterseals.com/fairlee.
Easter Seals offers a range of services, including children’s therapies, assistive technology, recreational camping, day programs for adults with physical or intellectual disabilities and respite services for When caregivers. To learn more about how Easter Seals helps children and adults with disabilities, call 1-800-677-3800 or visit www.de.easterseals.com.