Several summer camps in South Florida, including special needs camps have reopened this week. Parents are slowly rebounding from managing the work and students couldn’t be happier.
Campers at JAFCO Children’s Ability Center are happy to be back.
“Everybody knows Joshua, he’s like the mayor. They they say he’s the J in JAFCO. It’s just really cool to go there,” said Debby Corliss.
Debby is the mother of 14-year-old Joshua. She says her son couldn’t wait to go to camp again.
“He knows that his favorite people are there, so he asked if those specific people were going to be there," added Debby.
Joshua was diagnosed with autism and Angelman Syndrome.
With camps being closed for over three months, Debby was struggling to work and manage Joshua’s needs.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks because there’s no where to put him, I work full time. I’m divorced. My husband wasn’t prepared to take Joshua full-time. When I heard JAFCO shut down, I was really freaking out,” said Debby.
That’s when JAFCO stepped in and offered to send one of their camp counselors until she found a full-time caretaker for her son.
Now with JAFCO open again, parents like Debby, can work without having to worry.
“Our children really thrive on routine. They want to know what to expect next. They want a schedule, they’re used to that and all of that went out of the window with COVID-19. So our parents have been struggling with that scheduling with keeping them home and active,” said Robin Ullman, Site Director at Child's Ability Center.
The first day of camp was different. Temperatures were taken at drop-off and campers were put into smaller groups.
“Throughout the day we’re not going to be intermingling groups. We’re keeping groups separate. Groups are small. Approx 5-6 children. Ratios are small. We want to make sure our campers get that engagement that they need and while still following some distancing," added Robin.
The special needs campers start off their day in their assigned rooms then follow their schedules. Activities include arts and crafts, physical education and sensory play.
“I would recommend JAFCO to anyone that can meet their needs. They serve everybody. I feel very comfortable leaving Joshua in their hands. He’s nonverbal but actions speak louder than words. He’ll get out of the car and not look back, so that makes me know that he’s happy,” said Debby.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking your child to a center right now, Robin says JAFCO is offering online services.
For more information on that or to see if this is the right camp for your child, head to jafco.org