Friendships were made, adventures were had, and hilarious moments were shared at ADEC Summer Camp 2023! Individuals aged 6-22 had the opportunity to take part in one of the only summer camps in the Michiana area that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As Regina Hauptli, a parent of one of our campers, shared, “This is David’s third year attending camp. This has been a wonderful opportunity for him. Camp has helped with David’s social skills as he will talk about different peers he remembers from prior summers. It also gives him stability and a routine for the summer.”

The fun began in June and lasted through the beginning of August, Monday to Friday. That’s right; it was a full summer adventure! Campers had the opportunity to express themselves through fun activities, games, or arts and crafts, all while maintaining the interpersonal skills developed during the school year. With the 4:1 camper to staff ratio, each campers’ needs were met by direct support professionals.

With a full camp agenda, there was never a dull moment. Campers enjoyed water activities, scavenger hunts, soccer, Ninja golf, Disney trivia, time at the park, and obstacle courses. The campers also had the opportunity to spend a day at the Potawatomi Zoo and the Elkhart County Fair. Not only were there plenty of events for the campers to enjoy, but they also had spirit week. Backwards/inside out day, crazy hair day, and mismatch day were some of the campers’ favorites! As Regina further attested, “David does not show a lot of excitement over many things; however, ADEC’s Summer Camp was something he looked forward to every morning.” The camp not only provided excitement but allowed for personal connections and friendships to be made. “Last year David cried saying goodbye to staff and friends at the end of the last day. He adores several of the staff and continues to talk about them long after camp has ended for the summer,” said Regina.

Acceptance, empathy, and the beauty of difference was shining brightly at this year’s summer camp, but it wouldn’t have been possible without our campers, support staff, Notre Dame volunteers, and the City of Goshen. After receiving a $25,000 grant, we were able to offer scholarships for those who pay privately, as well as provide nutritional snacks and engaging activities. Regina expressed her gratitude for the scholarship, saying, “Having a scholarship has helped this summer as it is stressful to be a single mother trying to figure out how I can make things like this happen for him. When an email was sent out telling me about the scholarship, I was more than grateful to be able to provide him with this opportunity. My hope is that David will attend many more ADEC Summer Camps.” With the continued support of the community and dedicated families, our hope is that David and many more campers will have the opportunity to attend ADEC Summer Camp in the future.

As the summer camp came to a close, the campers put on a talent show. Singing, dancing, comedy, basketball, and so much more were shared with their family, friends, and the ADEC community. The smiles and laughter that filled the audience said everything! What a wonderful and successful year of ADEC Summer Camp.