REYNOLDSVILLE — DuBois campers danced and sang their hearts out in front of an applauding audience at the Camp Friendship talent show Thursday.
Camp Friendship on Oven Road in Reynoldsville welcomes campers of all ages from DuBois, Punxsutawney, Brookville, Brockway and Reynoldsville each year.
The camp, an initiative of the Arc of Jefferson & Clearfield Counties, is a week-long day camp for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. On each day, there are four classes — nature and science, art, music and gym, as well as a larger activity like swimming and horseback riding, said Betsy Buffinton, director of the DuBois and Punxsutawney camps.
Camp Friendship was started around 1975, she said. Buffington has been with the camp since 2008.
The effort is funded by the Arc of Jefferson and Clearfield Counties’ “Run/Walk for Someone Special” event held in Sykesville each year.
Thursday’s show included talents of all kinds, including basketball dribbling, baseball and football, singing and dancing.
So far this summer, the Punxsutawney campers rode horses at Knarr Performance Horses in Troutville and bowled at Groundhog Lanes, Buffington said. DuBois participants swam at the Reynoldsville pool, also riding horses at the same location.
The Punxsutawney camp welcomed 35 participants, and DuBois, 29, Buffington said.
For the first time this year, an early intervention camp will be held the week of July 22 for children ages 3-5, Buffington said.
“We saw a need for it in the community,” she said.
Each camp has a different director, Buffington said. Denise Ross instructs the Brookville and early intervention camps, and the autism camp held July 29-Aug. 2 is directed by Cassie Orndorff.
Student counselors from each school district volunteer and are paired with a camper, Buffington said, a good experience for both the volunteers and youth.
“They’re able to make new friends and continue to work on those friendships with kids in the school district,” she said. “DuBois is a great group of kids — they are really close-knit and take care of each other.”
The activities help the campers gain social experiences and grow outside of their comfort zones, Buffinton said.
“They have the opportunity to socialize with other kids who are campers, and with the counselors, in a more relaxed setting,” she said. “There are group activities and lots of playtime. These are opportunities they don’t get during the school year or haven’t had before.”