Non-profit summer camp for special needs adds ‘sensory garden’

Published: Jun. 18, 2018 at 5:23 AM CDT
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Down the road and through the woods at one northeast Iowa non-profit summer camp, there was a paved path that people of all abilities used.

Camp Albrecht Acres in Sherrill added a new addition along that path to help people with special needs- they call it a "sensory garden," and the purpose is to combat developing sensory disorders.

It took about a year for Camp Albrecht Acres to turn an idea to get its campers moving and excited, but most importantly, doing it outside.

Staff members with the camp spent time fundraising and researching grants to make their sensory garden.

With different chimes to play, gears to turn, and drums to pound, staff members like Ellie Moore, Executive Assistant for Camp Albrecht Acres, says what made this dream so important to make a reality, was being able to provide a unique experience that gave its campers something to look forward to.

"We do a lot with sensory integration,” said Moore. “We have a full week at the end of camp for kiddos with autism. And that is one thing that they struggle with a lot, is sensory disorder, needing a lot of sensory integration. So we have a sensory room on camp, which is really awesome, but this was a way to provide that outside."

Moore said because the camp appeals to all ages and abilities, it was important for them to build this with everyone in mind.

"We can get everyone out here all together, moving around, and this kind of provides a way for them to see something and want to move forward towards that thing,” Moore said. “It's a motivation to get out, to get moving."

Moore said once they had enough funding, construction only took about a month before they opened another feature and tool to help campers with special needs.

Moore said the camp will continue to look to add different features for their campers, and next up will be the construction of a new basketball court.