Friendship Circle camp for special needs children presses on amid pandemic with precaution

A day on the lake with friends - the kind of kinship so many of us crave in this COVID-19 socially distanced world. Distance is even more difficult for children with special needs.

"I think the biggest thing that our campers are facing is really isolation," said Rabbi Yarden Blumstein. 

Blumstein is the director at the Friendship Circle Overnight Camp in Pinckney - he says it was so important for the organization to keep kids connected during this difficult time.

"They don't even realize how socially deprived they are,  and then they almost come to life, and they kind of blossom and you see them get re-invigorated," he said.

Children like Allie, there with volunteer Ella

"It's great because every camper has different interests and different needs and they're all able to be met and they're all able to have fun," volunteer Ella Lewis said.

Which is what it's all about - having fun - and staying safe.

"I like to go swimming and canoeing and go to the gym - and arts and crafts," said Nick.

For Nick it's all the activities. For Cameron - it's just being together.

"Hanging out with friends," Cameron said.

Hanging out with friends - swimming, boating, sports, nature walks, arts and crafts, bonfires at night, even a talent show.

"One of the highlights of camp is actually a talent show where everyone kind of shows off their different talents and we all cheer and make them feel like a million dollars," Blumstein said.

Cameron is already rehearsing the song he'll be singing.

"Sponge Bob Square Pants," he said.

It's such a great experience - not just for the campers - but for everybody involved. It's not just kids with special needs who need the kind of companionship that comes with camping, and The Friendship Circle.

"It's really special, there's a ton of volunteering that's going in, a lot of donations to keep this going - and it's a great community effort," said Blumstein.