Children and Adults with Special-Needs Soaking Up Camp Sun 'N Fun

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For more than 50 years, Camp Sun ‘N Fun in Williamstown has given children and adults with special needs a chance to get out of the house and enjoy everything summer has to offer.

“Camp is a powerful experience for campers [and] it’s a powerful experience for the staff, but when you work at a special-needs camp, it’s just amazing,” said Jaime Jezek, the recreation director for Camp Sun ‘N Fun.

Since 1962, Camp Sun ‘N Fun has been providing a unique camp experience for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

At camp those issues don’t matter.

“You know, we do sometimes treat them like very fragile things and they’re not,” said Jezek. “They want to experience things the same way we do.”

“Nothing is considered abnormal here, this is our normal,” continued Jezek. “So they’re free to be themselves in ways where in a restaurant, they might be asked to sit down, sit still, don’t talk so loud.”

They want to experience things the same way we do.

The program is part of The Arc Gloucester, which serves adults and children throughout the county.

A few dozen campers from five to 90 years old get to experience what it’s really like going to camp overnight or just for the day.

“We have arts and crafts, sports and games, nature, performing arts, and we have instructed swimming,” said Jezek.

Jezek, who has a younger sister with special needs, says the camp is also an opportunity for the families or caretakers back home to get a quick break.

“But for families, it’s an opportunity to connect with those in their family that sometimes don’t get all of the attention they need because they have a special-needs family member,” said Jezek.

And as the counselors help the campers prepare for their annual Christmas in July party next week, you can't help but notice all of the smiles and new friendships.

“You don’t feel like what you’re doing is anything particularly special, but the enjoyment they’re getting out of you, out of it, reminds you that you really do make their year,” said Jezek.

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