Camp Special time gives parents a night off

16 Aug 2007 | Lance Cpl. Randy Little

For service members with a child who requires special medical or educational services, it can be difficult to find time to do simple things like going to get a cup of coffee.

This is why so many parents look forward to programs offered by the Exceptional Family Member Program such as Camp Special Time, held at the Stone St. Youth Pavilion, said Kathryn Smith, Exceptional Family Member Program Coordinator, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

“The Exceptional Family Member Program assists service members with children who require special medical or educational services before, during and after they relocate due to permanent change of station,” said Smith.

The camp, is offered three times a year; in October, February and April. It requires an application, and allows parents a chance to relax and take the time to do things they don’t normally get a chance to do.

“During a camp held last year, a couple who dropped off their child told me how thankful they were because this was the first year they were able to celebrate their wedding anniversary in more than 20 years,” said Smith.

The next camp theme will be “A Jungle Safari Adventure” and is scheduled for Oct. 21 - 22. The camp is run by a professionally trained staff of volunteers, said Smith.

“The ratio of volunteers to children has to be one-to-one, so parents can rest assured their children are receiving the care they need,” explained Smith. “We also have a staff of registered nurses from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, School of Nursing to assist if needed.”

Not only does this camp give parents a break, it also gives the children a chance to get out and be active as well.

“Camp Special Time gives the children an opportunity to play and interact with other children and be involved in numerous activities they do not get to do on a daily basis,” said Smith.

Many fun-filled activities and crafts are being planned for the children while they attend the camp. Some of the activities include making personalized T-shirts and monkey picture frames with the child’s picture in the frame and a monkey bean bag toss, said Smith.

Space for the camp is limited and based on a first-come-first-served basis because of the required staff-to-child ratio and amount of volunteers available for each camp. All applications must be submitted by Sept. 14.

“The number of campers allowed fluctuates each camp session and is already half full for October,” said Smith.

Parents should sign up as soon as possible to ensure their child has a spot for the upcoming camp because the list is filling up fast, she continued.

“We have received positive feedback from the parents of children who have participated in the camps,” said Smith. “The parents noted their children really enjoyed their experiences at Camp Special Time.”

Parents with children under 18-years-old who have special needs and are interested in the camp should contact Kathryn Smith at 451-0176/9372 or go online to the Marine and family services Web site at