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Therapeutic Recreation Camps in St. Mary's County

Leonardtown, MD- St. Mary’s County is now accepting registrations for two therapeutic summer camps for children with special needs. Camp Inspire is a four-week day camp geared toward children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. New Horizons Camp is a five-week day camp for children with a variety of disabilities.

Camp Inspire is intended to develop your child’s strengths and hidden abilities. The camp offers a wide variety of activities and field trips twice a week. Christina Bishop, Therapeutic/Leisure coordinator for St. Mary’s County Recreation and Parks explained, “Last year we went to the Great Mills swimming pool, the gymnastics center and Gilbert Run Park to name a few.” Staff members provide a unique program of recreational activities and academic and social development. Some of those activities will include occupational therapy, art therapy and social stories.

“Most of the staff members are autism specialists, they’re highly skilled with a lot of experience.” Bishop said. “As soon as registrations are received, the directors start reading about the campers so they’re prepared for the children they’ll be working with. The staff will also prep for camp the week before and learn about the children in their class.” Parents will be able to grant permission for the camp to have access to their child’s IEP or 504 plans from St. Mary’s County Public Schools to help provide more information about their child.

Older children at Camp Inspire can also participant in Project Inspire. Teens can focus on making a resume and practice for job interviews. They’ll also visit two job sites and work there for the day to see how things operate. “It’s a nice step to help them with the next part of their life.” Bishop said.

Camp Inspire, which has been operating for the past seven years, is from July 10-August 3 from 9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at Green Holly Elementary School. The camp is open to children and teens ages four to 18. Camp Inspire will accept 40 campers. The cost is $600 for the four weeks.

New Horizons Camp is designed for children with a wide range of disabilities. “The biggest difference is that we have registered nurses on duty at all times who can distribute medication and be available for emergency care.” Bishop noted. The camp also provides transportation to and from Lexington Park Elementary School. Transportation hubs will be available throughout the county to help families.

The program is designed to provide children with a fun, safe place to continue to grow socially throughout the summer. Some activities will include arts and crafts, music, swimming and field trips. “We have children with simple learning disabilities to children who are severely and profoundly disabled.” Bishop said.

New Horizons Camp is from July 10-August 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lexington Park Elementary School. The camp is open to children and young adults ages four to 20. New Horizons Camp will accept 50 campers. The cost is $750 for the five weeks.

Both camps are organized by age and are separated in classrooms with occasional large group activities. Camp Inspire and New Horizons Camp both also offer a peer assistance program. “This is a free program where older children can learn how to be a counselor with guidance and training from the staff. They’re usually assigned to one child and they’re a personal helper,” Bishop explained. Siblings are encouraged to apply.

Scholarships programs are available for families to help cover the cost of camp. It’s a first come, first serve basis. Both camps also accept third party payments—like monies from ARC of Southern Maryland, churches or the Autism Support Group.

For more information about the camps click here http://www.stmarysmd.com/recreate/TRC.asp

You must register your child in person at Recreation and Parks located at 23150 Leonard Hall Dr. Leonardtown and there is a $25 registration fee.

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

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