Some Columbia County's students vacationed in a tropical paradise this week.
The children attended Camp All Stars, a camp geared to serve those with special needs. This is the 10th year the school system has offered the week-long camps during the summer. About 55 children attended the first session this week, said Suzanne deTreville, middle school and high school special education coordinator and director of Camp All Stars.
"The camp is an opportunity for socialization, but we are reinforcing skills, as well," said deTreville "But we're making it fun. It's just not in an educational setting. In cooking, for example, we are mixing and measuring. There's some educational value."
There are five sessions of camp, each with a theme: tropical week, western week, fantasy week, patriotic week and fairy tale week.
The camp, which is being held this year at Evans Middle School, runs weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Certified teachers, special education teachers, paraprofessionals and volunteers are on hand to guide the children through the activities.
Volunteer David Tian, a Lakeside High School senior, played volleyball in the gym with Elliot Murer.
"I have never had the opportunity to work with children with mental disabilities. This is a chance to experience a whole new world. It's a huge opportunity to get hands-on experience," said David, who plans to study medicine or bio-medical engineering when he graduates.
The children, which range in age from 5 to 21, are separated into six groups. There are P.E. activities in the gym, leisure activities, including games such as puzzles and checkers, music where the children can sing and play instruments, arts and crafts, story telling and cooking activities.
"Today, for example, they are making vanilla pudding, where they will be measuring out the milk, stirring, putting the bananas and vanilla wafers in and then eating it," deTreville said.
The activity won the praises of Breyona Morrow who enjoyed the results of her labor, eagerly spooning the pudding into her mouth.
"It's good," she said.
And she was happy to have new cooking skills which she plans to use at home to "help mom cook more often."
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