Portland State University, Clackamas Community College, and La Salle Prep athletes are playing games with children 5 to 15 during Camp Exceptional held on campus this week.
The 5-year-old summer camp, run by the Bald Faced Truth Foundation, brings together students of varying ages and abilities to play together on and around La Salle's track. Adapted Physical Education coordinators Ben Canzano and Todd Jacobs devise the games; the high school and college counselors show campers how to play them.
Though children focus on sports during the camp, organizers call the session “a relationship camp,” where kids learn to interact and make friends with children different than themselves.
Several campers' parents said the camp is a godsend because it holds activities that accommodate children with a range of abilities.
"Activities, in general, can be hard to find when you have a disability," said Kelly Griffin, who brought her 13-year-old son, Brooks, who has Down Syndrome, and 10-year-old daughter, Rory, from Camas, Wash., to the camp. "This is how far you come when you find a good camp."
According to Rory, the trip was worth it.
"I liked it," she said of Camp Exceptional. "I liked everything about it."