Posts Tagged ‘recreation’

NC Camp 2013 Session 1: Scenes from Day 2

Monday, October 7th, 2013

It was another gorgeous day Sunday at Camp Blue Skies, being held this week at YMCA Camp Harrison. We enjoyed hiking, swinging on the giant swing, learning about healthy snacks, practicing for skit night, painting our banners and meeting some new furry friends at the Dude Ranch. (Yes, there are kittens!) And we drank plenty of water and put on lots of sunscreen!

Camp Blue Skies, YMCA Camp Harrison,

Volunteer Q&A from our NC 2011 Camp.

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Here is a little window into the volunteer experience from our last camp. Thank you to Mike Harris and Millie Cox  for their time at camp and for taking the time to answer some questions.

Q:What was your favorite memory? 

A: I would have to say my favorite was getting a camper to sing ‘I Can Fly’ to our cabin after lights were out.  It was quite moving, as the campers respected his work, and he took the opportunity very seriously.

A: Seeing Scott do the Zip line. Being asked to dance by one of the campers.
Q:Favorite Camper quote(s)?

A: ‘Ughhhhhhhh’, ‘How tall?’.  And ‘Hey Mike, I will take care of you.  We have to smell good for the ladies.’  And then he sprayed me with his special John Valvartos cologne.

Q:Any surprises? 

A: I was extremely surprised at how close I became to the campers.  Separating at the end of camp was surprisingly hard.

A: Feeling so at ease and comfortable around the campers. One, I had never been to camp in my life. Two, I had never been around adults with developmental disabilities. Three, I had always walked funny and crooked my whole life and felt self-conscious about this. On games day, I got to join a team and do the egg walk and other fun things. I had never had the courage to do this before. I figured that everyone would be staring at me but at Camp Blue Skies, no one cared — and there were others who walked funny like me!

Q: Anything you would do differently?

A: The camp did soooo many things right.  I did offer up a number of suggestions during camp.  I do like the idea of helping make the campers have a higher sense of value via hair cuts, mani and pedicures, etc. 

A: Can’t think of a thing. I think it’s great the way you have it.

Q: Proudest moment?

A: When virtually every cabin member came up to me at one time or another and said things like “Love you Mike.”  Or, “You are a great friend Mike.”  This gave me a feeling of adequately fulfilling my role.

A: One of the campers (who throughout the week, was not having much fun) came over and sat down with me, during free time, outside the cabin and after a few minutes, opened up to me and started a conversation. I feel like I really connected with him. 
Q: One thing that surprised you?

A: I was totally surprised at how functioning most of the campers really were.  It was just great to communicate with them, to hear their honest feelings on many different subjects.

Q: Something you would never change about camp?

A: Somehow you have created a special ‘family feel’ that makes the experience so special.  Never change that.

A: Location. Camp Harrison is THE perfect place.

Camp Blue Skies Fills a Need for Adults with Developmental Disabilities.

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Proud to help fulfill the national need for meaningful extracurricular activities for adults with developmental disabilities. Camp Blue Skies, where campers “age-in”.

Anyone who attended our inaugural Camp Blue Skies North Carolina session in 2010 knows it was something special. As staff we left feeling excited about what was accomplished and eager for future sessions. So, it was no surprise that we have filled our 2011 session with happy campers.

What was a shock was just how quickly we reached that goal. Within a month of opening enrollment we were full! The fact that our waiting list is still growing daily proves that this type of program is fulfilling an important need and is meaningful to our campers and their families.

It is comforting to know that Camp Blue Skies is one solution to the growing void of services and programs for adults with intellectual disabilities, including Autism. One story highlighting our country’s lack of programs for adults is part 5 of the PBS series, Autism Now.

Camp Blue Skies provides a much needed forum for socialization, recreation and education for our campers.  We strive to become a model program for adults with disabilities and a way for communities to take control of a potentially overwhelming situation.

How great would it be for camp to become an expected and assumed next step for adults with intellectual disabilities? Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to support and create programs that allow individuals to “age in” to communities that are meaningful, fun and enriching.

If you would like to be a part of the solution please consider making a donation to Camp Blue Skies or volunteering either this Fall at our North Carolina camp located at Camp Harrison in Boomer NC from October 2-6th, or this spring at our Atlanta camp located at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, GA from March 12-16th, 2012.

Liz, Camp Blue Skies staff

The “Heart” of Camp Blue Skies: A Closer Look at How We Fulfill Our Mission.

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Our mission at Camp Blue Skies is to enhance the lives of adults with intellectual disabilities through recreation, socialization and education.  You may be wondering just how we reach that goal.

Let’s break it down.


Whether we are doing the zipline, going on a nature walk or catching a fish, campers are exposed to a variety of recreational opportunities. Simply being outside can be a challenge for some campers (and volunteers). Our intent is to design activities that are fun, appropriate and align with the concept of challenge by choice , a common outdoor education philosophy.


Socialization comes in many forms at camp. We like to have a blend of structure and spontaneity within our community. Structure and emotional safety is created by campers being assigned to cabin and activity groups. These small groups allow them to share common experiences and form friendships with a handful of other campers and week long volunteers.

Campers are also encouraged to interact with other members of the Camp Blue Skies family during meals and evening programing.  Our hope is that campers will feel comfortable and safe within their small groups at camp and therefore will be willing to step out of their comfort zone and reach out to someone new during whole community activities.


Similar to socialization, educational opportunities are endless at camp. Informal lessons on flexibility, patience, humor and friendships are interwoven into camp life. More formal lessons are taught through our life skills program. The hope is that this type of program will seamlessly fit within the camp activities. For example, our “Fun with Food” classes are designed to be fun and campy while also containing some tips on health and nutrition.

We are doing our best to reach many goals with a “do it right” mentality while having the best interest of our campers in mind. In the end, the real truth is that the “heart” of camp comes from the people involved. The Blue Skies family is filled with grateful, enthusiastic and loving people. Together we will continue to provide meaningful programing and opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Please email hidden; JavaScript is required or post  other ways we could improve our community and better fulfill our mission.

Liz, Camp Blue Skies

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