Third annual Special Olympics Camp Shriver in Collier County

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez
Published: Updated:

The third annual Special Olympics Camp Shriver will bring students and athletes together in Collier County for the next two weeks.

“The campers come and they have fun, and they’re active, and they learn new skills, and they make new friends,” said director Deborah Bellerose.

Camp Shriver brings together young people with and without disabilities who participate in the same activities alongside one another.

Volunteer Kaitlyn Confer said she loves to be a part of the camp.

“It makes me feel really good because you can see all the smiles on their faces and how much fun they’re having. And they’re making so many new friends, and so are all the volunteers,” she said.

“When this opportunity came, I jumped because I look forward to these two weeks more than any other all year,” added Bellerose.

Bellerose said it’s an opportunity to promote inclusion and foster understanding.

“Our high school volunteers that work here get pretty much the same thing our campers do and a healthy dose of empathy. It is so important for them to interact with everybody and to be active and to enjoy and to learn to help and to encourage and everybody really loves it,” she explained.

After reading and spending some time in the sun, the fun continued inside with arts and crafts.

“It’s definitely helping us interact with a bunch of different people of many different backgrounds, and I just think it’s going to help us in the future,” said Confer.

The organization serves 60,000 athletes statewide.

“My favorite part, I like making new friends,” said Lauren, another Camp Shriver athlete.

Week one will host ages 8-15, and week two will host ages 16-22.

Naples Children & Education Foundation funding supports the Young Athletes Program and Unified Champion Schools. It also supports the continuation of Camp Shriver in Collier County, one of many programs funded by dollars from the Naples Winter Wine Festival.Ā 

Special Olympics Florida provides year-round sports training and competition, crucial health services, and life-changing leadership programs to people with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the athletes or their caregivers.

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