Jordan Sumner pets Slinky, a bald python, held by Chehaw volunteer Matthew Kinjerski, at the Nature Camp for Children with Special Needs on Dec. 8, 2012.
ALBANY, Ga. — A smile, a laugh, other kids and time outside enjoying activities and nature all can rate as awesome to children and their parents.
That's what Patti Sumner said as her son Jordan did his best to imitate the slithering tongue of a bald python at the Nature Camp for Children with Special Needs that was conducted Saturday at Chehaw.
"Awesome. It is just so good for children with special needs to get outside," Sumner, of Worth County, said. "And it is good to have something to do that parents can see the children enjoying."
Sumner heard about the camp from friends who sent her pictures and information to her Facebook listing, she said.
However they heard about it, Amy Bacon, scoutmaster of Troop 7 in Leesburg ,was glad parents and the children were enjoying the day.
How could they not? Billed as a "Rootin' Tootin'" good time, the event featured animal encounters with Slinky the python, a great horned owl named Tiger and a hedge hog that goes by Peter. The day also included horseshoe games, a cowboy campsite with chili, crafts, face painting other snacks, and a balloon artist.
"This is the first year we've had it (the camp) here. We thought it would be good because it is centrally located," Bacon said. "It is great because of the animal interaction for the kids. People don't realize special needs children need things like this. I don't care what the disability is, all children can enjoy the outdoors."
Bacon's son, Joshua, has spina bifida and that got her interested in the Boy Scouts, she said. She feels that all kids should be able to join the troop.
"My focus is on the disabled children," Bacon said. "Everyone can join. I accept everyone."
One boy, Grey Yelverton, found particular pleasure in running his fingers through a box of beach-white sand. Uncovering the toy horses and other animals beneath the sand held a fascination for him. His face lit up with a 100-watt smile.
His joy wasn't lost on his father, Billy, or his sister, Tana, who were by his side as he played in the sand.
"This is just something great for them (the children) to do," Billy Yelverton said. "There just doesn't seem to be much for them when they develop autism."