Day campers from the JCC of the Greater Five Towns' Camp Friendship recently enjoyed a day of surfing at Long Beach thanks to Surfer’s Way — a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to offering children the thrill of surfing regardless of their challenges.
Surfer’s way provides this opportunity in a fun, safe environment while helping to boost the children’s confidence. According to Surfer’s Way, surfing touches children with special needs and creates a personal sense of accomplishment, which is consistent with the goals of Camp Friendship in helping to instill confidence in children with special needs through a variety of sports and recreational activities.
New York State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, an ardent supporter of the JCC of the Greater Five Towns and Surfer’s Way, was on hand to swim with the children.
Swimming, sports, arts and music are just some of the activities enjoyed by the campers at Camp Friendship, a day camp for children with autism and other developmental disabilities run by the Five Towns JCC. Since its inception in 2007, Camp Friendship has not only given special needs children the chance to enjoy the same summertime fun and entertainment as their mainstream peers, but has also provided working parents the peace of mind in knowing their child is being cared for in a safe and nurturing environment.
“I am very pleased and happy that Kevin is truly enjoying his summer at Camp Friendship,” said one of the mothers whose son attends the camp based at North Woodmere Park. “It means the world to me that he is in such great company, having lots of healthy fun in a safe environment with lovely people.”
Camp Friendship is held weekdays from noon to 4:30 p.m., and the one-on-one staff ratio of specifically trained counselors work through a variety of challenges a child may have, including autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. The camp gives the children the chance to participate in sports and recreational activities while gaining the additional social and health benefits of exercise.
“Camp Friendship helps address critical childcare needs for working parents of children with special needs, many of whom have two or three jobs,” said Rina Shkolnik, executive director of the JCC of the Greater Five Towns. “Judging from the laughter and smiles on the children’s faces, they are really enjoying the carefree days of summer and having fun participating in the many activities Camp Friendship has to offer.”
The camp program is partially funded by the Solon Summerfield Fund, the Kathryn and Alan Greenberg Day Camp Scholarship Fund of UJA-Federation of New York and by generous donations from supporters of the JCC.
Camp Friendship is among a number of recreational programs for special needs children sponsored by the JCC of the Greater Five Towns, including the “Field of Dreams” soccer program and the Etgar/Challenge Sports program. In addition, the JCC has a broad range of educational, recreational and social enrichment services to help improve the quality of life of children, adolescents and adults with special needs. Support services for family members are also available.
For more information about these programs and services, call 516-569-6733, extension 211, or visit www.fivetownsjcc.org.
This press release was submitted to Patch by the JCC of the Greater Five Towns. It has been edited.