Tag Archives: special needs kids

Hi Ho Hi Ho, A Camping We Will Go!

Monday morning brought campers not only to Friendship Circle, in order to catch a bus, but also their sense of adventure. What adventure is that, you may ask? The great outdoor adventure. With the help of the Bear Hug Foundation, campers look forward to the four day, three night annual overnight camp every summer.

Climbing onto the bus, campers head off with cheery faces and excitement to Camp Tamarack. There, the kids are encouraged to “live the experience”, as they broaden their horizons and pick up a variety of skills with the help of their buddies.

Camping Fun

Overnight Camp 2014

With rock climbing, swimming and archery on the agenda, campers enjoyed all of the fun and experiences that came with not only spending time with their buddies, but also trying out new things at the overnight. One night, the kids put together and presented a camp talent show–from solos to group sing alongs, no one was left out. Everyone joined in and had a great time!

The kids also:

  • Tie-dyed t-shirts and pillowcases
  • Created new things in arts and crafts
  • Played Friendship Circle games
  • Played sports with staff

Outdoor learning

Overnight Camp 2014, 2

While a lot of fun can be enjoyed at camp, there is also a time to learn in order to help heighten the experiences gained. From the morning they arrived at Camp Tamarack, to the evening they left, all of the participants definitely learned new things about the great outdoors, camping and pioneer life.

Whether in the woods, on the trails or by the lake, campers were taught by Tamarack staff, through games and hands on learning, about the ecosystems that surrounded them, the different types of animals that lived in the wild, and also focused on the different living organisms that called water their home.

Overnight Camp 2014, 5

Tamarack staff also helped campers learn how to survive in the wild during their own camping adventures. Many fish were caught by campers and volunteers alike, and delicious food (like grilled cheese sandwiches and popcorn) was cooked over a campfire. Campers were also taught how to use a compass and follow directions to get where they needed to.

Campers spent time at the pioneer village, learning about that era of time by visiting different parts of town and role playing. At the tavern, campers dressed up in period clothing and enjoyed homemade treats. Campers and their buddies were also locked in a cell at the village jail after admitting to what they were caught for (stories creatively made up by the campers). In the general store, campers “oohed and aahed” over pioneer tools, sweets and life necessities, while learning about how those tools helps pioneers in their day-to-day lives.

Overnight Camp Camp 2014, 3

The campers, staff and volunteers all experienced a sense of peace so close, yet so far away from home. Beyond this story, memories were created, new friendships were formed, while some older friendship were ignited.

And of course, we couldn’t forget about the traditional roasting of s’mores!

Because a camping trip can never be without s’mores!

Overnight Camp 2014, 4


Exploring our Friendship Circle Summer Day Camp

In August, Friendship Circle becomes rather boisterous, as children with special needs come together with our teen volunteers. These excited campers spend four weeks of their summer vacation learning new things at our 8th annual summer day camp, while continuously developing already gained skills. From everyday activities to field trips to welcoming Friendship Circle guests, these children are always on the move, constantly asking questions and experiencing new adventures every day.

Two Tracks

Each child is on one of two different tracks: the social skills track and the day camp track. Children enrolled in the social skills track begin their mornings with a social skills class, before joining in that day’s activities. The main theme focused in the social skills class focused mainly on celebrations, with various topics covered throughout the weeks.

In-House Activities

During the week, campers rotate between different activities within the Ferber Kaufman LifeTown. Whether it’s learning about new music, working on some new arts and crafts project, or learning a new game during gym, campers are immersed in a variety of different hands-on activities in order to maintain their attention while learning.

Friendship Circle Visitors

While experiencing these rotating sessions, campers also welcome fun and exciting new friends to Friendship Circle. The campers have

  • Met a magician, and gained a new animal balloon friend
  • Met a mad scientist, and learned more about how the world runs
  • Played with bubbles, while learning about related activities that they could do with their families at home.


Campers have also been adventuring out into the community throughout the week. Take a look at what the children have been up to!

  • Bouncing at SkyZone
  • Swim lessons at Aqua Tots
  • Swimming at the Warren Community Center
  • Exploring the Howell Nature Center
  • Visited the Michigan Science Center
  • Made a splash at Heritage Park
  • Visited the Southfield Library
  • Explored Kensington Metropark

Of course, besides our wonderful staff, this camp would not be possible without the help of the hundred volunteers that rotate throughout the day camp–a majority of them being all year round volunteers.

As our 2014 summer draws to a close, we spend our last day at camp enjoying last minute activities, saying goodbye to old and new friends and join in with sharing all of the memories we’ve made, as we look forward to the Friendship Circle being just as busy again next summer.