The Edmond Sun

February 12, 2014

Registration begins for Camp ClapHans

Second season starts in June at camp for kids with special needs


Special to The Sun

NORMAN — Families can register now for Camp ClapHans, a residential summer camp in Norman for children with disabilities. 

The camp is for kids ages 8-16 and is an outreach project of the J.D. McCarty Center for children with developmental disabilities. The center is a pediatric rehab hospital that specializes in the care and treatment of children with developmental disabilities from birth to age 21.

The deadline to register for the camp is April 24. The cost for a three-day camp session is $325 and scholarships are available to families who qualify.

The camp is located on the center’s campus at 2002 E. Robinson St. in Norman and features two cabins and an activities building that are located next to an 11-acre lake.

Five camp sessions are offered this summer with sessions from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday evening. Activities for campers include archery, arts and crafts, camp fires, canoeing, fishing, field games, horseback riding, nature hikes and swimming.

Camp Director Kyle Cottrell said the camp offers kids with special needs a place where they can enhance their self-esteem and social skills.

“I want them to have an amazing experience,” Cottrell said. “I want them to have this opportunity to discover a new activity, to make new friends and learn something new about themselves.”

This is the second season for the camp, which opened last June. Many campers and parents from last summer said they were thrilled with their experiences.

“I like the camp because I get to be with other people like me,” said Greg Carter, of Norman, who is autistic and attended camp last July.

Greg, 15, said he hopes to serve as a camp counselor when he is older. Until then, he wants to come back to camp this summer and encourage other kids to give it a try “because it would be a great experience for them.”

Ted Fitzhugh of Broken Arrow said his great-grandson, Ethan,11, who has cerebral palsy, loved the camp and enjoys looking at photos of activities he did at camp.

“It was a great experience,” Fitzhugh said. “I was so overwhelmed by not just the care given, but the genuine love that was given there to the kids.”

Camp ClapHans has a 1-to-1 staff to camper ratio, registered dietitians to plan all dietary needs for campers, two registered nurses and a physician available to assist with medical needs, Cottrell said.

Also, “Camp ClapHans staff members work with the J.D. McCarty Center therapists, psychologists and nurses to ensure that a camper’s social and emotional goals are being fulfilled,” Cottrell said.

Camp staff members are typically university students who are working toward a degree in allied health-care fields, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology; special and general education; outdoor recreation; nutrition and other related fields, Cottrell said.

Camp ClapHans also is accredited with the American Camp Association. Accreditation identifies programs that offer a solid foundation of health, safety and program quality, according to the association’s website.

The camp opened in June 2013 and served 54 children from 17 counties in Oklahoma.

Camp ClapHans sessions

This summer will feature a Wild West theme at the camp. Here is a schedule of the sessions and each week’s theme:

June 15-18: Saddle Up Buckaroos

June 22-25: Chuck Wagon Roundup

July 6-9: Jumpin’ Jukebox Jamboree

July 13-16: Rootin’-Tootin’ Rodeo

July 20-23: Head ‘Em Up, Move ‘Em Out



TO REGISTER for camp, 307-2814 or email kcottrell@jdmc.org. Families can also register for camp at campclaphans.com.