The J.E.R. Chilton YMCA at Rockwall's Angel Camp is a day camp for children with special needs - the only camp of its kind in Rockwall. The camp includes typical day camp activities, plus weekly field trips specially designed for kids with special needs.
Chase Wood was born with Downs Syndrome and he often has to deal with people who treat him differently because they underestimate his abilities. But this isn’t a problem at Angel Camp - they know that kids like Chase enjoy all the same activities as other campers, like canoeing, horseback riding, basketball, and swimming. The camp counselors encourage the campers to try everything and to strive to do their best. Chase was nervous at first about horseback riding. He had never seen a horse up-close before and its size was intimidating to him. But after the counselors let him take some time to get to know the horse and reassured him that they wouldn’t let anything happen to him, he climbed on and now loves riding. He even plans to compete in the Special Olympics horse competition this year! Even Chase’s mom, who is his biggest advocate, was surprised that the campers were learning to use bow and arrows. The counselors asked her why she thought they shouldn't be allowed to shoot arrows when other kids at camp were doing it; and even she had to admit that maybe she had underestimated her son. Chase has also discovered that he is very good at basketball. He is extremely tall, so he often plays against the counselors and he has gotten so good that he has been a member of the Special Olympics team for the past three years. All of these discoveries were made possible because of Angel Camp, and as Chase simply explains, “Angel camp is about taking the “dis” out of disability!”