Official Statement on Camp Dream
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Atlanta) – Roosevelt Warm Springs (RWS), a Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA) Center sitting on 943 square acres in Meriwether County, has always enjoyed offering its precious natural and historical resources to partners in the community. For a number of years, one of these partners has been Camp Dream, a Marietta-based free youth camp that hosted children and young adults with various disabilities on our RWS campus during the summer.
We are pleased that, over the years, so many young people had positive experiences at this camp. However, when third-party organizations host functions on our campus, we put safety, security, and appropriate accreditations at the forefront, particularly for young and vulnerable populations. Our new administration, which assumed office in 2016, immediately made the safety of clients and young people on our property a top priority. Part of this assurance was a requirement for American Camp Association (ACA) accreditation. Regrettably however, camp leaders have failed to secure this accreditation following our request in August 2017 and a subsequent reminder in January 2018, which reiterated those requirements.
While ACA accreditation may seem like a technicality, we consider it much more. The ACA’s standards ensure every measure is taken to keep Georgia’s children, many of whom are impacted by serious medical conditions, safe and healthy. The standards establish guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices, as well as guidelines for risk management. They ensure appropriate staff-to-camper ratio given the populations under care, goals that are developmentally based, emergency transportation available at all times, first aid facilities, and staff trained in first aid.
We offered Camp Dream an opportunity to use our facilities this year if the organization partnered with an accredited entity or if all other criteria were met, with an ACA inspection scheduled. Those offers were not pursued. Therefore, lacking proof of steps to secure accreditation, we are unable to host this organization at this time. We do remain hopeful that their accreditation in the future would allow us more opportunities for collaboration.
For young people experiencing injury or illness, an opportunity to spend days or weeks among peers going through similar experiences is vital to normalizing their lives and circumstances. We are thankful that another camp we host annually, Camp Twin Lakes, bears ACA Accreditation and is scheduled as usual this summer. We are also currently vigorously exploring options that will enrich the lives of Georgia’s youth with disabilities. Families may additionally search for accredited camps by locations at https://www.acacamps.org/ or email us at Communications@gvs.ga.gov for information or to receive email updates.
GVRA is the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation organization. It was established through legislative action in 2012 with the goal of helping every Georgian with a disability who wants a career to attain success. The organization includes five programs: Vocational Rehabilitation, Roosevelt Warm Springs and Cave Spring Center, Georgia Industries for the Blind, the Business Enterprise Program and Disability Adjudication Services. More information is available at https://www.gvs.ga.gov .
Robin Folsom, Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Director of Communications and Marketing, Communications@gvs.ga.gov, (404) 922-1303