Offer Extended to Save Camp Dream's 2018 Session

June 8, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ATLANTA- Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, the state’s vocational services agency, has been pleased to house Camp Dream activities at our Roosevelt Warm Springs (RWS) center for more than two decades. Throughout that period, our focus and goal has been to provide a safe and positive environment for all campers.

The American Camp Association (ACA) is an independent entity that operates under broadly-accepted best practices for residential summer camps, particularly those dealing with vulnerable children and adults. In August of 2017, the GVRA identified the need for Camp Dream to obtain ACA accreditation and granted a reasonable year in which to do so. Documentation of an August 31 st meeting in which Camp Dream leaders were notified of this standard is available. While some communication transpired between GVRA and Camp Dream in the interim, we were at no time provided with documentation of their progress toward ACA accreditation. In January of 2018, Camp Dream was issued an official reminder, reiterating the standard, in efforts to avoid any issues moving forward. Still, no documentation was provided. GVRA, which always prioritizes its clients, was left with no option but to establish a deadline by which we could no longer accept an unaccredited organization on our premises. This deadline was also communicated to Camp Dream’s staff, with the caveat that portions of the process, such as a site inspection, could be completed later.

We understand how important social and recreational activities are to young individuals, many of whom anticipate enjoying such outings all year long. GVRA is committed to ensuring that these individuals enjoy positive experiences in safe environments. Recently, after an exhaustive search of other available options, GVRA offered Camp Dream the opportunity to collaborate with an ACA-accredited, ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible camp in late July and early August. This arrangement would ensure that 128 campers of all ages and disabilities would enjoy a safe camp experience at no cost to their families. The Camp Dream Foundation declined this offer on the basis of a misconception that adults and Camp Dream staff would not be able to participate. This is not the case. Leaders at Camp Dream were made aware that campers with all disabilities, including those 18 and older, are welcome at Fort Yargo State Park under this proposal. Moreover, Camp Dream’s staff and volunteers are also invited to participate in camp sessions.

Throughout this difficult period, the GVRA has focused on providing solutions that best serve Georgians with disabilities. While Camp Dream was aware that they would not be able to operate on RWS campus without accreditation, it appears that campers were not notified until the last couple of weeks. At this juncture, we remain hopeful that our emphasis on the students' opportunities will be respected. We are hopeful that the Camp Dream Foundation will demonstrate its commitment to campers’ safety and accept the terms of this proposal. We have extended our offer through COB Monday, June 11, 2018. It our deepest hope that we can share good news with the families and children who rely on Camp Dream then.

About GVRA:

GVRA is the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation organization. It was established through legislative action in 2012 with the goal of helping every Georgia 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 gvs.ga.gov

Media Relations:

Robin Folsom, Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, Director of Communications and Marketing, Communications@gvs.ga.gov, (229) 563-3174