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Making Dreams Happen at Camp Dewan

Story by Jennifer Gledhill, Search's Community Inclusion Coordinator

The challenge is the same for every non-profit agency committed to enhancing the lives of people with extensive support needs: what can we do to get them outdoors for exciting sensory experiences while maintaining the full range of their self-expression?

Where can we squeal with glee at the top of our lungs, rock the clouds with roars of laughter, and allow uninhibited wandering without fear of danger or disorientation?

Here’s an idea: host a summer camp!

It’s been a quiet dream of ours for years - renting some land and producing an old-school summer camp experience for all levels of ability. We’d thought long and hard about what that would look like. Our dream camp would have:

…a cool, accessible space to do camp crafts

Camp Dewan 12 Individual Makes Crafts On Table

It should have a safe, level trail for nature walks.

Camp Dewan 99 Man Walking On Forest Path

There should be plenty of spots for games to be played with a net of some kind.

Camp Dewan 66 Individual Plays Basketball

Camp Dewan 73 Group Plays Volleyball with Red Plastic Ball

For the more chill of our bunch, there should be shade for lounging, barbecues for savory picnic experiences, and best case scenario: canoes in which we paddle and glide across quiet, silky smooth waters devoid of gators and/or snakes.

Camp Dewan 25 Canoe Paddles Down River Lined With Trees

Camp Dewan 70 Staff Flips Burgers On Barbeque

There should be a campfire whose structure would allow us to easily safeguard the campfire noobs among us while we made S’mores.

Camp Dewan 77 Group Sits Around Firepit On Sunny Day

This camp should have flexible facilities: climate controlled cabins for the more sensitive campers, rustic cabins for nostalgia’s sake, and a tent option for the (very few) camping purists amongst us.

Camp Dewan 5 Two Neatly Made Camp Beds In Wood Paneled Room

A big movie room with a giant screen on the wall wouldn’t be the worst thing to have. (I know it’s a lot to ask, but we dream big.)

Camp Dewan 88 Two Men Watch Movie On Projector Screen

Non-negotiable: a super cool t-shirt.

Camp Dewan 22 Green Camp Tshirt

An indoor gym would be ideal in case it rains…

Camp Dewan 2 Interior Of Large Wooden Barn

And if we are reaching for the stars, we should be able to fashion many cringe-worthy puns with the name of the camp.

Enter Camp Dewan.

Camp Dewan 101 Toy Sailboats

In June of 2019 we hosted two 3-day/2-night camps for 26 campers who stayed overnight, and 13 day campers who came out for a day of barbecues, games, and crafts. It was the inaugural season of what we are sure is to become an annual tradition here at Search.

Camp Dewan 90 Selfie With Staff and Individual

Camp Dewan 9 Author and Individual Take Selfie Together

Camp Dewan 57 Staff and Individual Stand With Arms Around Shoulders

Camp Dewan 65 Staff and Individual Selfie In Canoe

Camp Dewan 69 Individual and CEO Sit Outside

So. Dewan to come paddle a canoe with us next summer?

C’mon! We’re super fun! We even make double rainbows happen…

Camp Dewan 41 Group Stands On Basketball Court Below Double Rainbow

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