Early this summer, members of IRC’s Community Engagement team served as camp counselors at E*KAMP, hosted by non-profit organization Chasing 7 Dreams! E*KAMP is a week-long day camp for kids with autism and other developmental disabilities. Our Community Engagement team was also able to link Chasing 7 Dreams with funding to assist with covering camp expenses. Read on to find out how communities were connected, and lives were enriched through this fantastic camp!
Chasing 7 Dreams History
Tenika Doyle was searching for social programs for her son Elijay, who has autism. While searching, Tenika thought back on her childhood experiences of going to summer camp with her church. With that spark of an idea, Tenika founded her non-profit Chasing 7 Dreams! Chasing 7 Dreams’ first project was Elijay’s Kids with Autism Making Progress Camp or E*KAMP for short. Tenika sought to create a space for Elijay, and other children on the spectrum, to feel included and accepted. And that she has done!
What started as a one-day event in 2017, E*KAMP is now a week-long event! The camp is staffed by volunteers who are trained in working with kids who have developmental disabilities. This was important to Tenika and Chasing 7 Dreams. She felt it was important to create an environment where “our kids aren’t just understood but celebrated!”
So how does IRC come into play? Great question! We just brought Chasing 7 Dreams, Aktion Club, Kiwanis, and the CAC to the same table! Inland Regional Center hosts an Aktion Club which shares many members with our Consumer Advisory Committee. Aktion Clubs are service groups for adults with disabilities, supported by a local Kiwanis Club.
As part of a service project to send area kids with disabilities to camp, our Aktion Club requested a grant of $2,500 from the Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino— which they received! Inspired by the generosity of the Kiwanis, IRC’s CAC provided an additional grant of $500 through their fundraising efforts.
Kids go to KAMP
Through the grants provided by both the Kiwanis and the CAC, twenty local children were able to attend Chasing 7 Dreams week-long E*KAMP! Chasing 7 Dreams Founder Tenika Doyle had this to say about the grants and their impact, “The financial support was a blessing because we typically have to charge parents for the camp. Many parents expressed to us that the Kiwanis generous grant allowed their child to experience camp for the very first time, and they were very thankful!”
#TeamIRC Joins E*KAMP
Members of our Community Engagement team, including myself, were able to spend time volunteering at E*KAMP. We were paired with one or two campers and got to guide them through the day’s activities. It was amazing to see how much variety the camp had to offer the kids. Highlights for me and my campers included painting, yoga, and the reptile show. Lilliana Garnica, IRC Diversity Outreach Coordinator shared her experience, “It was great to watch the campers enjoy a few days of their summer break with engaging, educational, and fun activities such like board games, robotics, a scavenger hunt, and a visit from the local Fire Department. I’m looking forward to volunteering again next year.”
Up Next for Chasing 7 Dreams
Chasing 7 Dreams is planning events and fundraisers throughout the rest of the year! They will also be recruiting board members and volunteers for next year’s camp. And big news! Chasing 7 Dreams will be collaborating with Inland Regional Center to host a 3-day event for older teen and adult clients! Follow them on Facebook and Instagram or visit their website for details on their upcoming events.
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