One of the non-profits we’re supporting this month is Camp Smile. Offered by the Collierville Parks and Recreation Department, Camp Smile is a unique camp experience designed to meet the needs of exceptional children, ages 6 and older, with mild to moderate physical, developmental, or learning disabilities. Campers participate in a variety of activities, crafts, music, story-time, games, outdoor activities, and field trips.
As a thank-you for our sponsorship, we were invited to visit and have lunch with the campers and the volunteers who serve them: 5 Collierville High students – who the campers refer to as their best friends – along with Camp Director Michelle Kelley and Lisa Gaither, Recreation Program Coordinator.
The Town of Collierville has offered Camp Smile for 20 years. It became a part of my summer 6 years ago. I teach disabled students at Collierville High School, and the then-Director of Camp Smile called to see if I would be interested in organizing the camp. This was exciting for me, since I had heard many of my students’ parents wishing for summer events for their kids. Once I posted the sign-up sheets, the response was enormous!
The kids I teach are a constant inspiration to me. They inspire me not just to be involved, but to do everything I can for them. I am blessed in so many ways, and if I can make them smile or have a great day then I feel even more blessed.
My biggest hope is that we continue to have sponsorships to be able to run an amazing camp. We have many participants who can’t afford to pay, but I will never turn a student away, so we really need the help! A dream come true would be a sponsorship that covers many more campers and the addition of another week of camp. It’s a long, hot summer in the south, and these kids deserve time away from their parents and lots of fun.
– Michelle Kelley, Camp Smile Director
To learn more, or contact Camp Smile to learn about ways you can support them, visit Collierville Parks & Recreation.