HOUSTON - The great outdoors is a fantastic way for people to build bridges and strengthen relationships, and a Houston nonprofit is working to ensure everyone is included.
For nearly 30 years, Camp for All has been working ot go above and beyond, creating an inclusive camping experience for children and adults with special needs. However, as we come to a close for National Disability Employment Month, it is important to recognized how the nonprofit works to create inclusiveness for their employees as well.
According to CEO Pat Sorrells, who spoke with FOX 26 in an interview, their staff members are the bread and butter of what make Camp for All such a welcoming experience for campers.
Camp For All Burton, TX, 07/12/17. (Photos by ©Kim Christensen)
"We're a national leader in creating and providing proven life-changing experiences, and we have incredible staff," she said. "The whole concept of camp for all is to not only give people with special needs or challenging illnesses, opportunities to do things they didn't think they could do, but also have them grow and become advocates for themselves realize what they can do as opposed to what they can't do."
In fact, Sorrells claims many of the staff members are former campers themselves, and having that demonstrates representation for some campers who might be more apprehensive.
One story in particular was a former camper turned staff member named Mike who Sorrells said had a brain tumor as a child, and underwent surgery.
"I'll never forget him telling me the story of a camper in the cabin with him, who was so sad, and Mike asked him what the deal is, and he points to a scar on his head," Sorrells said. "And Mike said, 'look, I've got one too,' and the kid smiled. I mean, it's just that's leveling the playing field and in saying that ‘you are important and an important part of life.’"
Camp Periwinkle 2022
Additionally, Sorrells explained how the entire team work to ensure every activity is compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) but have had incredible feedback from the community for the work they've done. FOX 26 in fact, has taken part in one of Camp For All's outreach efforts where they climbed from a 30-foot tall building in The Woodlands.
The efforts do not stop there, and actually even have another event coming up in November called a Disc Golf Tour-nament.
Sorrells also encouraged people to learn more and consider volunteering, as they're always in need for helpful and eager staff members.
"If somebody is interested in joining our summer staff that's usually college days aged kids," she explained. "And we train, and it's really wonderful thing to put on your resume, when you're filling applications and getting your real life job. But we do have people that have come to camp and change their focus in terms of what they want to do in their career because of their experience at camp for all."
"We do have a few people that have also met and married, but the staff is critical to our programming, and you get all kinds of training," Sorrells concluded. "So you're not you're not alone. You learn a lot, and you learn a lot about working with very special people."
To learn more about Camp For All, visit their website.