Special Camp Celebrates 30th Anniversary With a Summer of Fun

The summer of 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of Special Camp–and a return to a modified in-person program in July.

The summer camp program for children, teens, and young adults with disabilities continued serving the community in new ways. Special Camp honored is 30th anniversary through several unique opportunities: an art competition (recognizing the program’s original “sandcastle” logo and the symbolism of building friendships); 30 days of memories shared through social media; and a 30th anniversary fundraiser.

Special Camp’s 2021 theme was “Construction Zone: Building Lasting Friendships” and the programming included two sessions at just over 60 percent capacity. Activities include the Irvine Regional Park/OC Zoo, Adventure City, Linda Lane Beach in San Clemente, Knott’s Berry Farm, and an on-campus carnival. While programming details were slightly different this year, Special Camp continued to fulfill its mission of providing a safe space for having fun and building genuine, lifelong friendships.

Looking back, the time spent together through a virtual platform in 2020 forged new possibilities for Special Camp – including the first Special Camp Talent Show, held on the last day of 2020’s Virtual Special Camp.

“In late June, we offered a hybrid talent show to provide participants the opportunity to display their talents through either an in-person or virtual setting,” said Lindsay Eres, executive director of Special Camp. “Talent shows also became a mainstay in our last day of each camp session, which was an exciting way to wrap up our time spent together.”

The return to in-person programming was a hit. “We are grateful to have been back in-person this summer, and we appreciate St. Margaret’s guidance in navigating a program during a pandemic. Our participants agreed, as they shared through numerous testimonials,” Lindsay said.

Reflecting on her first Special Camp experience, one Camper shared “thank you so much for planning the best camp ever. I had so much fun! I will always remember it!’ A longtime parent of both a camper and counselor explained, “Special Camp is magical! It transforms the lives of the ‘typical’ humans just as much as the ‘special’ kids!”

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