Camp Spirit was welcomed back to Manchester by refreshed parents and relaxed family members. A cheerful group of campers and counsellors returned from an unforgettable experience at Special Spirits – an annual highlight catering to children, teenagers and young adults with special needs from Manchester and Gateshead.
Special spirits hosted their sleepaway camp for girls and younger boys in Llandudno. 70 people joined, including excited campers, dedicated volunteers, a fully equipped medical team and a devoted kitchen staff. The camp heads and social heads worked tirelessly months ahead planning activities to ensure the camp is a happy, friendly and safe environment.
The chosen theme of camp this year was ‘around the year’ with programmes including a Purim carnival, Lag b’Omer bbq and a Chanuka party. Each day began with cocoa club and a sandwich making session. Campers were given opportunities where independence was encouraged, teaching them invaluable life skills. Davening was an exciting experience complete with music, dancing and singing; the joy was evident on each child’s face.
Campers enjoyed daytrips to bowling, soft play, trampolining, and a cruise along Salford Quays on the way home. Back on the camp grounds, stimulating activities were provided for all ages, where counsellors assisted their campers in achieving beyond their expected ability. To quote a staff member; “I have never experienced an atmosphere like this before” and from a parent of a camper; “She is loving every second. We can hear it in her voice over the phone”.
The highlight this year was the musical entertainment with Buchy Gluck and Nesanel Bamberger who came with all the ‘Special’ teenage boys of Special Spirits, from Manchester for the evening.
Shabbos at Camp Spirit is indescribable. The air was full of song and dance – the joy of these children was tangible. With the younger boys attending a minyan in Shul, and Kabolas Shabbos in Camp for the girls, everyone present was moved by their genuine sincerity. At the meals, each child was given the opportunity to play different roles, whether they gave their Divrei Torah, began Zemiros or helped serving, each child embraced a sense of responsibility.
Thanks to the generous donations of the Manchester Kehilla, raised on ‘the Special Shabbos’ campaign, Special Spirits was once again able to help parents carry the burden of raising these special neshomos. Camp provides respite for the parents and family members of these special children. The exhaustion and pressure placed on these parents on a daily basis, makes the winter break a necessity.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Special Spirits runs an after school programme all week throughout the year, where 40+ children and young adults are entertained and stimulated with a wide range of educational activities, teaching vital life skills to each child on a one-to-one basis.