From the April 2015 issue

All Star Camp for Special Needs Young Adults

Summer experiences for kids with special needs are growing. But what about when your child gets older? Enter All Star Camp.

Now in its 22nd year, this nonprofit program is just for ages 16-plus. It welcomes young adults with a variety of physical and intellectual disabilities. Over six weeks, they enjoy 24 days of tailored camp fun at Lamphere Center in Madison Heights.

“It filled that gap,” says Karen Kmiecik, board of directors member. “It’s a little more laid back” than typical respite-home programs, mixing learning and fun.

Running June 16-July 23, camp is in-house Mondays and Wednesdays. After a morning walk, campers enjoy a mix of activities, from art room to relay races. Tuesdays is bowling. And Thursdays bring field trips like Spencer Park beach in Rochester Hills, the Oakland County 4-H Fair and even the Detroit Zoo.

Guests also engage campers, who feed carrots to Bugsy the horse and pet birds and snakes from Dan the Creature Man.

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“We try to make sure that it’s something they can be close to that they would normally never be,” Kmiecik says. A staff of 13 paraprofessionals ensures a 1-to-3 ratio (program holds 30 max). Campers are gently, safely challenged to try new things. And it’s addicting. Kmiecik’s own daughter Kim, 37, has attended since the ’90s, when special ed teacher Rick May first created the camp.

“She gets very excited about camp, period,” mom says. “I feel confident in going away from the building knowing that she’ll be OK.” Campers run a gamut from autism to Down syndrome to cerebral palsy, which affects Kim. It’s a supportive setting. “They’re good to each other,” Kmiecik says. “Nobody’s ever bad to each other.”

Sign up information

Ages: 16-plus (no limit)
Date: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, June 16-July 23
Location: Lamphere Center, 29685 Tawas St., Madison Heights
Register: By Friday, May 15 (program holds 30 max)
Cost: $200/week, $1,000/all six; ask about scholarships
Contact: Karen Kmiecik, 248-990-1508 or karenspecialo@att.net

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