Camp E-Ma-Etu was the place. Sports, learning, fun and teamwork was the goal. The first-ever Camp Shriver took place in Onslow County June 18-21 and it was a huge success! Special Olympics Onslow County hosted the camp with support from the Department of Defense. The camp’s purpose was to provide sports, recreational and enrichment activities for all the campers, while improving their sports and social skills to increase their self esteem. The camp was free for athletes with intellectual disabilities ages 8 and up, as well as Project UNIFY buddies from various Onslow County schools.
The camp accommodated 24 overnight athletes, 12 non-disabled overnight campers and 25 day campers. Campers were able to enjoy everything a typical summer camp offers including: outdoor movies, campfires, dining hall meals, sports activities and fun. Every day a different sport (softball, bocce, golf, tennis, swimming, volleyball, bowling, flag football, surfing) was featured for the campers to learn and play. A popular sport with everyone was surfing. The Emerald Isle Surf Riding Foundation donated their time and boards to help the campers try to ride the waves. MacDaddy’s in Cape Carteret opened their doors for a day of bowling.
The campers also took time out during the week for crafts and learned how to tie-dye their shirts, as well as play some inside games such as checkers, Duck-Duck Goose, and more. They were teamed up by color and had fun creating clever nicknames for their group like Green Lantern, Orange Cheese Puffs, Blue Lightning, and Pink Polos! Each group had a team leader, as well as several Project UNIFY buddies on their team who helped them with all the activities. It was unanimous – surfing, flag football and volleyball were the favorite activities. And s ‘mores were by far the best snacks served!
The camp created an atmosphere of understanding and caring. Campers with and without disabilities developed close friendships, a respect and admiration for one another and made some great memories together as well.
“I liked the whole thing, being able to make the Special Olympics athletes have fun, go to a camp overnight, and still have fun myself. It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside because I helped so many people,” said Nathan Baker, a Project UNIFY buddy.
“I like camp fun ! I went beach, lay on surf board and eat s ‘mores too,” said athlete Jay McCullen. “I love dance, movies, friends, snacks and playing tennis too. Want to go more Camp. “
“I hope we get to do another Camp Shriver I liked it alot and had a great time, said athlete Eddie Millward. “ I met alot of new friends.”
“Devin felt needed and loved by her peers,” said Yolanda Ziegler, a parent and camp chaperone. “This camp was a wonderful experience for her. She’s been telling friends and family of her amazing time there ever since we got home. I would strongly recommend this camp every year!”
There was only one major complaint echoed at the end of week… “camp’s not long enough”. That’s one complaint Dawn McCullen, Special Olympics Onslow County coordinator, and camp director couldn’t hear enough.