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Faculty, students create special camp

“Camp Smiles” is a new summer camp for kids who don’t usually get the opportunity to go to camp. This five-week camp, offered for the first time this past June and July on the CCU campus, offers summer recreation and learning activities for children with severe disabilities

The camp grew out of a need expressed by Anita Howell, the mother of a 10-year-old boy named Ryan who has cerebral palsy. Howell approached Jeanne Cobb, director of the Chanticleer Center for Literacy Education in the Spadoni College of Education, who reached out to CCU special education professor John Delport. The group began meeting last year to organize a summer camp for kids like Ryan.

They set up a crowdsource fund online and also secured donations from Waccamaw Community Foundation, the Knights of Columbus, South Strand Church, several businesses and various individuals. CCU donated supplies and volunteers from the literacy center. Eggs Up Grill, Fatz Cafe, Sticky Fingers and Olive Garden provided lunch for the campers.  

The first camp had a total of 19 kids and offered four rotating classes: music therapy, art, literacy and physical education. Ten special education majors and graduates participated as camp counselors, and two music therapy majors from Charleston Southern University led the music sessions.

All involved are looking forward to next year. Delport, who has a son with autism, feels the University, students and faculty have a moral obligation to find meaningful ways to appreciate diversity and each other.

“We can really, as an institution, be a beacon to the community,” he says. “If not us, then who?”