Camp Community Shows Love to the Developmentally Disabled

This past summer I was employed as a camp counselor at Cedarkirk Camp and Conference Center.  It is a small Presbyterian camp located in Lithia, Florida, just south of Lakeland.  The camp, whose prime objective is simply showing love to all of its campers, takes kids from first through twelfth grade for it’s standard camp program.  However, it has another program called Reachout which consists of developmentally disabled adults who are nineteen years of age and up.  And the age range is really as diverse as it could be.  Some campers are just out of high school, while some of them are in their seventies.  But despite this, they all (for the most part) get along and have an absolute blast for a week with the Cedarkirk staff.

I was personally fortunate enough to be able to experience all of this first hand because I was a Reachout counselor for a week.  I was fairly nervous as the week was getting started and understandably so.  I was to be responsible for four developmentally disabled adults for an entire week and I had no previous experience in the field whatsoever.  But as the week progressed, it became clear to me that these were the most honest, loving, and trusting people I had ever interacted with.  They aren’t cynical, shy, reserved, or afraid of letting their guard down like the majority of people one meets.  They just have fun and give and receive love in the most honest way possible.  The whole week ended with the Reachout talent show, where all of the campers performed various acts of their choosing for the entire camp, and were met with thunderous applause.  Now whenever someone starts going on about the moral decline in society, I just think about Reachout.  These wonderful people get the love they deserve there while a few decades ago society did not treat them nearly as kindly.

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