The Special Needs Summer Camp has had weekly trips.
By: Amy Filippone, Dept. of Parks & Recreation
The Moorestown Parks and Recreation Special Needs Summer Camp has been busy going on field trips and trying to escape the heat with weekly trips to a water park. In our eleventh year, there were 51 campers ranging in age from first grade to high schoolers. Campers come from surrounding towns, as well as Moorestown. Many come from the morning Extended School Year (ESY) program, which is just down the hall at the Upper Elementary School.
But the UES is really just the launch pad. Monday through Thursday, they’re off to bowl, swim or explore nature.
“Activities just depend on the day. Some days we have magic shows. Some days we have field trips. I think we’ve only had a couple of days that we stay here,” said Bryanna Mostak, the camp director.
Mostak said the kids favorite part is probably Coco Keys, which the group goes to every Monday.
“There’s something to do for all of them — slides, a playground, a lazy river,” Mostak said. “No matter if they can’t swim or if they’re great swimmers, that’s really a great trip for them.”
Wednesday is bowling day at Pinsetters in Merchantville. It starts with pizza lunch in a private room, and then it’s off to the allies to throw down some strikes. Bumper bowling means pins are always falling. Everyone patiently waits their turn and technique is not important. It’s those magical hypnotic seconds when kids are laser focused on the ball as it heads down the alley towards the pins.
This year for the first time campers went to “We Rock the Spectrum,” a gym environment that is designed specifically for people on the spectrum and with sensory processing issues. Kids went zip lining, climbing, suspension swinging and more where they felt safe and comfortable. It will certainly be on next year’s trip list.
Other outings have been to Bounce U, Pump it Up, and The Discovery Museum where kids explore all kinds of interactive stations like a kid-sized diner, sports arena, small theater, construction and arts and crafts.
Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge visited the camp on July 24 and brought two owls and a falcon. These magnificent birds have been rehabilitated by Cedar Run and can’t return to the wild. They are ambassadors for educating kids who can see them up close and learn about their species and habitat. Other nature trips were to PAWS Discovery Farm and Rancocas Nature Center, where campers were put into small groups and got up-close tours of a butterfly garden, a frog pond and turtle viewing.
Friday was a full day camp that started in the morning when Special Needs campers joined the Moorestown Parks and Recreation Youth Theater Camp at the High School. They “buddied” with one of the theater campers where they learned their parts in the show, Annie, Jr. On Friday July 27, camp ends with a crescendo — A Special Needs matinee performance so parents and families can see them perform followed by a pizza party for cast, crew and staff. A great way to end camp — singing and dancing.