Buddy Camp - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Buddy Camp

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It's not your typical summer camp where kids spend the majority of time with other kids their age, but with older peers who are more like mentors. These campers leave with a strong friendship and an understanding for what it means to accept someone for who they are. News Channel 5's Natalie North reports on this special summer camp.

10 year old Morgan Villard has been going to buddy camp now for 3 years. This year, she is excited to spend her time with her new buddy - Annie David. For Morgan, buddy camp at the first united Methodist church is a week she looks forward to every year.

"We get to play together and have fun."-Morgan Villard

17 year old Annie is Morgan's buddy. She's been a counselor here at buddy camp for 5 years now. But it's her special bond with her buddy - Morgan - that teaches her what it means to be mentor.

"I learn to respect, love, and care a lot for people, especially my buddy."-Annie David

For the past 13 years, buddy camp has been giving kids like Morgan, an opportunity to build a strong friendship with a peer like Annie.

"Buddy camp is a day camp program that is specifically designed to bring together children who have developmental special needs, together with their typically developing peers."-Stacey Debevec, camp director

Buddy camp director Stacey Debevec, says that the camp is beneficial not just for those with special needs, but for the peers who volunteer their time - and take away valuable lessons.

"I think it's more about acceptance and developing compassion, and learning how more alike we are than we are different."-Stacey Debevec

"It teaches me to think about others more than myself."-Annie David

Morgan and Annie are just one of 80 buddy pairs this year - which learned that everybody has different abilities and disabilities - and that's what makes us special.

"It's just a great experience and I enjoy doing it."-Annie David

"Well I just love her."-Morgan Villard

Buddy camp has become so popular over the years, that this year, there will be a second week-long session in July. It's too late to sign up this year, but don't worry, the camp will continue to its 14th year next summer.

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