Special needs kids get true summer camp experience in Brownwood
BROWNWOOD, Texas - A camp in Brownwood is making the impossible, possible for children with special needs.
Mission Possible started 11 years ago as a refuge for special needs kids to get a true summer camp experience. They spend three days at the 4-H Center in Brownwood, having arrived on Wednesday.
Campers vary from third graders to recent high school graduates. They also have different disabilities, including autism, down syndrome, and blindness.
Maria Hey began visiting the camp seven years ago. Her son Gabriel has autism and she drives from San Antonio to make this adventure a family affair.
"Once I found out he could have the same experience that we had, we signed up," Hey said.
The volunteers are high school students in 4-H programs across Texas and they get thoroughly vetted before becoming mentors to the children, according to organizers.
"I think the biggest benefit is getting to teach the 4-Hers," Hey said. "I mean, it's great that the kids with special needs get to have fun and get to enjoy the camp."
She added, "But what I see the most is the mentors, the actual 4-H kids, learning about kids with special needs."
Justin Morrison traveled from San Antonio to volunteer at the camp - his first time.
"We got matched with one of the campers," he said. "And we read about them, and we figured out how to help them in the best way."
Dr. Darlene Locke and Laurinda Boyd serve as the camp's co-directors and also were its founders.
"You don't realize until you step into the shoes of those families, [to see] what they actually have to work against every day," Boyd said.
One camper has been coming for the last two years from Grand View, Texas.
"It's the slide and the swimming," Megan Hites said when asked what she likes doing best. "The archery I really did [like]. [But] I liked the swimming the most."
The kids depart from camp on Friday afternoon.