The message for those attending Camp Able this summer was a simple one, expressed well by the late Bob Marley — one love, one heart.
The message was clear as the camp closed shop for the summer Thursday afternoon with a talent show at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Gulfport.
Camp Able is a day camp held at the Coast Episcopal School for people with special needs. The camp has been operating out of the Pass Christian school for three summers.
“Our campers are not disabled, they have diverse abilities,”said Phoebe Marquez, a third-year camp counselor. “This camp is all about what they can do and we not to say the word ‘no.’”
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The campers spent the week fishing, sailing and exploring some of the many summer activities offered in South Mississippi.
But Thursday, the spotlight was on the campers as they displayed a variety of talents. There was singing and clapping and guitar playing. One camper sang Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” and another sang “We Are Young” by Fun. There was the “YMCA” dance and even the “Nae Nae,” all executed with passion as the appreciative audience held back tears.
Some campers even chose to record their performances.
“We have a few campers who have taped their talents and we are going to show them during the show,” Marquez said. “They may not be comfortable in front of large groups so we don’t want to leave anyone out.”
Although Camp Able was a day camp, it seemed like a typical last day of summer camp. There were long hugs goodbyes and tears and well-wishing and the promises of writing letters until they reconvene next summer.
Camp counselor Madison Wypyski of Pass Christian said the camp has changed her life in a positive way.
“The end of camp is so sad, but you know the kids are going to off and do great things but you may not see them again until next summer,” she said. “The talent show is such a special thing because they practice all day for it and there’s such a difference between their spirits during rehearsals and when they perform for an audience.”