Aaron’s Acres summer camp experience includes community outreach

By on July 25, 2018

Youth and young adults participating in Aaron’s Acres Acts of Kindness take part in community services activities as part of the experience. Here, volunteers interact with residents of Pleasant View Retirement Community. (Photos provided by Aaron’s Acres)

Summer camps have become part of the summer experience for many kids. Children and young adults participating in Aaron’s Acres programs are no exception. The non-profit organization, which serves children and young adults ages 5 to 21 with developmental disabilities in Lancaster, Dauphin, and Berks counties, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year

Aaron’s Acres’ principal program is its summer day camp, which is held from June to August. Since 2013, Manheim’s Veterans Memorial Park has served as one of the camp locations. This year, it’s the organization’s only summer camp location., and day camp participants from Berks and Dauphin are bused to Manheim. Activities include swimming at Manheim Community Pool, group games, sports, crafts, therapeutic horseback riding sessions, music therapy and snacks.

“The day camp helps utilize the facilities we have, including the pool. They do have some time in the morning to swim, but if there’s time in the afternoon they go back,” said Manheim Mayor Scot Funk. “During that afternoon time, they have a chance to interact with kids from the community and that’s been really a great benefit,”

Adolescents also have the opportunity to participate in community service projects through Aaron’s Acres Acts of Kindness.

“It gives the kids an opportunity to give back, and it’s important from them to do so; they experience the joy of helping others,” said site supervisor Kelly Parker. “They are so often the recipients of services; by giving back they realize they can make a difference in the lives of others.”

One of those outreach opportunities was a visit to Pleasant View Retirement Community on July 17. Parker and a few other support staff joined 15 campers age 13 to 15 as they played games and interacted with residents at the retirement community.

“The campers really enjoyed their visit with the residents,” Parker said.

“They are so often the recipients of services; by giving back they realize they can make a difference in the lives of others,” said site supervisor Kelly Parker. Here, campers participate in a car wash at the Stauffers of Kissel Hill on Rohrerstown Road.

Amanda Hall, Pleasant View sales and marketing manager, said this was the second year Aaron’s Acres campers visited Pleasant View residents. Those who visited July 17 met with nursing care residents and played summer picture bingo and Connect Four with the residents.

A group of Aaron’s Acres campers also visited Pleasant View the week of July 9; that group played outdoor games such as corn hole with residents at Terrace Gardens, Pleasant View’s personal care facility.

“It’s heartwarming to see the spark of enthusiasm between the campers and our residents,” Hall said. “Developing connections and fostering these experiences provide an opportunity for both generations to learn new skills, share stories, build a sense of purpose.”

Aaron’s Acres also hosted a car wash at Stauffers of Kissel Hill’s Rohrerstown Road location on Monday, July 16. Forty day camp participants washed cars for over an hour. Their efforts raised nearly $555 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

“The Acts of Kindness not only benefits the community, but it show people what the kids are capable of,” said Funk. “They may have disabilities, but they can be a caring part of the community.”

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

Volunteering to play games with residents at Pleasant View Retirement Community was one of several Aaron’s Acres Acts of Kindness activities this summer.

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