"Special" Camp Reaches Out To All Children

The Mississippi Elks Association is helping children who for health reasons might not ordinarily get the chance to go to summer camp. "Camp Special" started in Forrest County five years ago but organizers say this is the first summer children have spent a full week enjoying games and activities.

The game sounded simple enough. Counselors told the camper to use their fingers to lower a pole.

Matthew Little said team ran into some difficulties. "Some people didn't put it down and some people went up instead of down," he said.

What seemed to be a good time gone wrong actually turned out the way counselors at Camp Special hoped it would.

"We knew there was gonna be some blaming involved in some of the activities and there was gonna be some conflicts, but that's part of the team building process," said assistant activities director Jason Mann.

Many of the children are dealing with diagnoses like Attention Deficit Disorder, Diabetes, and Cystic Fibrosis. Most told me they arrived nervous and afraid they wouldn't be accepted. Within a few days, all that changed.

Heather Roberts said she enjoyed "Arts and crafts. We fished and I caught the first fish yesterday and all the guys didn't catch any."

The Elks say "Camp Special" lets these children focus on what they can do rather than their limitations and how to overcome obstacles together.

Any child in Mississippi ages 9 to 13 is eligible to attend "Camp Special". He or she doesn't have to be a special needs child. The camp director says she may host a second camp this summer depending on demand.

If you would like to send a donation, volunteer, or maybe send your child to Camp Special call 601 268-3088. The fee is based on the family's financial situation.