Summer camps for kids with intellectual or developmental disabilities
One of the joys of warmer weather is camping, and for many years congregations and organizations throughout our synod have rented or maintained campgrounds for WELS members to use and to provide camping retreats. Some of these camps offer multi-day or even week-long programs geared toward different groups of people. Many WELS members have fond memories of attending camp when they were young, making new friends, and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation.
Camping can be a challenge for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, so Jesus Cares Ministries has partnered with several WELS camping organizations to provide fellowship, outdoor activities, crafts, and most importantly, God’s Word to campers with special needs. These camps have been very popular throughout the years, so it’s important to make plans soon!
These camps are staffed by dedicated volunteers who return year after year because of their love for Christ and the differently-abled. There are some caveats: participants must be ambulatory and must be able to take care of their bathroom needs on their own. You can see what exactly is offered and what the attendee requirements are for each camp at their respective websites:
Camp Phillip in Wautoma, Wis.
Camp Omega, Sept. 15-16, 2023, in Waterville, Minn., and Camp Green Lake, Oct. 9-10, 2023, in Spicer, Minn.
In addition to these camps, the South Central District Special Ministries team just held their first Special Needs Family Camp at Camp Shiloh in Pittsburg, Texas. This inclusive camp opportunity welcomed families with a child(ren) with special needs such as Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and other conditions. The work that the South Central team did can serve as a pattern for others to offer inclusive camps geared toward families and not just individuals.
The community of Christ is made up of people of different ages, races, abilities, and conditions. We rejoice in opportunities to bring God’s people together to serve, be served, and give glory to our Creator and Savior!
WELS Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Ministry
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