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Go Camp!

Here at ESP we have summer on the brain.

Here at ESP we have summer on the brain.

It’s not because of the sudden regression toward freezing temperatures we experienced earlier this week.

And it’s not because we look forward to driving into downtown Athens without having to fight traffic and hordes of jaywalkers (though we do).

It’s because now is the time of year when planning for ESP summer camp really heats up.

We’re putting out the call for summer camp counselors -- those loving, selfless teens and twenty-somethings who look forward each year to spending a summer full of early mornings and high-energy sing-alongs.

Camp was ESP’s first program, started 25 summers ago. Without camp, there would be no ESP. So, much of what we do all year (, ) is done with the goal of making camp better, and making it accessible to more families. Part of what makes ESP camp special -- other than the kids -- is the counselors.

Each summer, we have a 2:1 camper-to-counselor ratio. For every two children and young adults, there is one counselor. It’s partly a function of need, since many of our campers have profound disabilities.

But, it’s also about making the experience more fun and personal for ESP campers. Every child has goals during ESP camp. For one, it might be to learn better social skills. For another, it might be to overcome a fear of water. For yet another, it might be to face down his or her constant anxiety.

We have a long history of recruiting local college students to fill the extra-special role of counselor, but we’re trying to branch out and find potential counselors who have never heard of ESP, but whose skills and patience are nonetheless a perfect fit.

Think you know of someone? Since ESP camp is a day camp, (most) nights and weekends are free, and no experience is required with children and young adults with disabilities. Application materials are attached on this page as easy-to-download PDF's!

Meanwhile, the effort to sign up campers continues. We have young adults who have been attending ESP camp nearly since its inception in 1986. Some children have just recently started to discover the joy of ESP.

We know there are more out there.

We have programs and special weeks that cater to different types of campers, from the youngest kiddos to the most self-sufficient young adults, who spent a week last summer working in the community in various service roles.

Many tell different versions of the same story about their special child’s first ESP camp experience: he or she was terrified when they first arrived at camp -- there was so much going on, way too much stimulation. The next day, their child jumped right into activities, just as if he or she had always belonged there.

By the end of the first week, that child couldn’t stop talking about ESP camp, about the counselors and activities, and of course the new friends. Among children who are nonverbal, there are often stories of more calm, more peace, less anxiety and upset.

It’s pretty remarkable what a day at camp can do for kids.

It's all about ESP's mission to take children and young adults who are singled out every day for their disabilities, and to make them feel incredible -- to help them thrive.

If you’re interested in learning more about camp, the ESP story, or about how you can get involved, please visit our website. Throughout the summer, we invite friends in the community to come take part in camp so they can experience the magic for themselves. If you’re interested, please email Samantha@extraspecialpeople.com so ESP can keep you in the loop.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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