Camp I Am Special Buddy Information
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
There is no fee to apply to be a Camp Buddy. Once accepted, there is a $45 mission commitment fee which covers the supplies the Buddies receive at Camp and the associated administrative fees. This fee is only assessed once a year, regardless of how much you volunteer at Camp. Please remember, all of your meals, snacks and refreshments are provided (unless you require a special diet, then we ask you to bring anything you need). You also receive a FREE Camp T-shirt, a Photo of you and your Camper, plus a link to a video that we make with pictures from each week.
All Buddies arrive on Sunday night at 7:00pm. You will start with meeting everyone including the Camp Leaders who will be in your cabin to assist you. Each Buddy will learn about their assigned Camper; for example reading the Camper’s full packet, how to feed, dress, and transfer from a wheelchair. Each group will discuss a typical day of camp and any questions will be answered. Each Buddy will get the chance to talk to the medical staff about any special needs. Each Camper session is mixed with new Buddies and experienced Buddies so you will get to speak to Buddies who have worked camp before. A heavy snack will be served Sunday night, but please do eat dinner before arriving. The Campers arrive around 2:00pm on Monday. Prior to their Campers arrival Buddies will learn skills and make friendships that will last a lifetime.
Buddies will earn 121 service hours when the entire camp session is completed & 48 hours for a Mini-Camp session. Please bring any special forms with you to camp on Sunday night and turn them in. We will sign off on your hours during the week and return the form to you at check-out. If you do not have a form we will provide a service letter on our letterhead.
We place Buddies into sessions based on what is the best fit for our Campers so we cannot guarantee this. If you would like to request to volunteer with a friend, a friend request must be submitted to Rebecca Aleman, Ministry Director, with a convincing reason why Camp would benefit from the arrangement. Please make sure to include the first and last name of the other person. Additionally, the person you are requesting to be with must also submit a request.
Because consistency is key when working with Campers’ who have a disability, our Buddies are required to commit to the times and dates printed in their application and may not show up late or leave early unless it is approved by the Rebecca Aleman, Ministry Director in advance.
There are two buildings that house our bunks, one for the boys and one for the girls. In each building there are two cabins (A and B for girls, C and D for boys). Between the two cabins in each building is a shared bathroom. The Camper will sleep on the bottom bunk, and Buddies will sleep on the top. Camp Leaders will be in cots, stationed throughout the cabin. There will be at least two Camp Leaders in each cabin with two additional Camp Leaders sleeping in the foyer of the cabin.
At each week of camp we have a Registered Nurse, or Medical staff professional, licensed to provide medical care. The Buddies turn in all medications (prescription and over the counter) and will receive their medication from the medical staff as prescribed/instructed. Buddies may NOT keep any medication with their personal belongings. The reason we do not allow Buddies to keep ANY type of medication with them is to protect the Campers from accidentally getting a hold of the medication.
You may have an adult Camper, however, please remember that the Camper’s chronological age is most likely different than the Campers maturational / cognitive age. Many Buddies apply to our sessions for younger Campers because they feel a younger child would be easier. On the contrary, an older Camper is often able to do more for himself/herself.
Yes, you may have to do this as well as shower, feed, and dress your Camper. The Camp Leaders can assist you if needed, but you will have to provide the primary care your Camper will need. You will receive this training on Sunday night and Monday prior to Camper arrival. You will do everything that the Camper’s parent would do for them at home.
We do try to prevent this from happening. Many times Camper’s become aggressive due to frustration with communication. Our Camp Leaders and staff are trained to handle behaviors, and each Buddy will also receive some training on Sunday night. If the Camper becomes aggressive the Camp Leaders will step in and remove the Buddy from the situation and handle things accordingly. Once the Camper has calmed down a staff member will bring the Buddy back to hang out with their Camper. If the Camper becomes too aggressive he/she will be sent home.
The only time prior to your arrival at camp that you can find out who your camper is, is during the required Buddy Parent Meeting When you arrive at camp on Sunday night we will give you your cabin assignment along with your Camper’s name.
We are an active camp so a two piece may get pulled down or come off while trying to help your Camper. Therefore we require all volunteers to wear a modest one piece bathing suit for your privacy as well as your Camper’s. The Camp Leaders and other staff will be wearing them as well.
On Sunday night you will be asked to turn in your cell phones and car keys during check-in. This is so you may give your undivided attention to your Camper. The office assistants will have your phone and keys locked up for safety. If a phone call is absolutely necessary our Ministry Director will make arrangements for you to use one of our office phones. Collecting personal cell phones also helps with confidentiality purposes. If your parents or another family member need to get a hold of you in an emergency situation they may call the office at 904-230-7447.
When you check in on Sunday, you will receive a number so your parents can contact us. If you wish to call your parents at Buddy time (10:30pm-12:00am) you may ask for the phone to call, but we do ask that you limit your call time to 5 minutes if others are waiting to use the phone. You may also receive mail during your week, so family and friends can send notes of encouragement. Please have the mail addressed:
Your First & Last Name
Camp I Am Special
235 Marywood Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32259
We need you to give your undivided attention to your Camper. This is a challenging week of service you are volunteering to give for your Camper. On Friday night your family can attend the talent show at 7:00pm. This talent show is where you work with your Camper to unveil a talent your Camper has. This is a good chance for your family to meet your Camper and see how hard you have worked this week.