After watching her older brother and sister go away to overnight camp, Melanie had been asking to go. We knew it would be a struggle for her to make friends and fit in, so we didn't send her to that camp. A few years later, we discovered Camp Firefly. The interview showed that she would fit nicely into the small camp. She looked forward to going and couldn't wait for the big day. When we arrived, the camp was welcoming. After only a very short time, Melanie was met by counselors and her camp experience began. When we went to pick her up she had the biggest smile on her face. We knew it was a success!
We liked that the counselors and staff all had special education training, and we were really impressed when we heard there were also social workers present to help the campers make friends and fit in socially. Melanie was able to pick from a wide variety of optional activities to participate in, and found out she loved the zip line! While being scared of the high ropes, she still tried it out with some encouragement from the counselors. She has been going there for 4 years, 2 years in teen camp and 2 years in next step, and doesn't shy away from the high ropes anymore. The camp is something she looks forward to each year. She keeps in contact with some of her fellow campers she met there. At camp, she relates well to the campers and the counselors, and each year has become more confident about what she does there. She likes that sometimes the camp takes small field trips to the Dells for bowling, ice cream, water activities, etc., but also just really loves the camp atmosphere of being able to be yourself with no judgments from others. The staff is excellent at helping the campers work through conflicts that may occur. She found a dedicated staff that listened to her issues, helped her when she was upset, and encouraged her to move onto a new path.
Melanie talks about camp all year long. She has learned to be away from home from several weeks at a time, with no contact with us, and never felt homesick. Camp Firefly turned Melanie's summers into fun and exciting time.
Camp Firefly is a welcoming community for children, teens and young adults who oftentimes have difficulty connecting with peers and navigating social situations. Camp Firefly is a program of Jewish Child & Family Services, in partnership with JCC Camp Chi.