Special needs camp makes South Mississippi debut

mhalford@sunherald.com Twitter: MaryMargaretSHJuly 1, 2014 

Camp Able for disabled children at Coast Episcopal School in Pass Christian


PASS CHRISTIAN -- At Camp Able, there are nature hikes, a water slide, arts and crafts projects and an end-of-session talent show, just like most summer day camps. There's also a group of dedicated counselors willing to go the extra mile to make sure their 12 special-needs campers get the experience kids anywhere else would get.

Focus on fun

"We focus on the things these kids can do, not the things they can't," said Olivia Feeney of Long Beach, a co-director of the weeklong camp being held at Coast Episcopal School. "We'll find a way to make sure every kid can do every activity and have the time of their life."

Camp Able got its start in Florida eight years ago, but is making its debut on the Coast this summer.

"We knew there was a need for a camp like this here on the Coast," Feeney said. "We wanted to bring it here so the kids wouldn't have to travel so far to go to something this awesome."

"Camp Able is about our abilities, not our disabilities," camp coordinator Kirby Barkley said. "One thing we give them at this camp is a choice in what they want to do, and that's not something they always get in their everyday lives. That's why we're here."

A group of incoming seventh-graders helped out as counselors this year, and 12-year-old Kate Montjoy was one of them.

"It's really fun," she said, adding that a highlight so far for her was a water slide.

Letting them shine

Thursday afternoon at 1:30, the campers will all participate in a talent show -- complete with Disney show tunes and dance moves -- that's open to the public.

"It's a chance to put the spotlight on these kids and let their talents shine," said Callie Bennett, who came to the Coast from Florida to help with Camp Able. "It's just awesome."

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