JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
A five-day summer camp is underway at Joint Base Andrews, Md., from Aug. 21-25 providing an exceptional group of children with an opportunity to learn, socialize and have fun.
The JBA Exceptional Family Member Program Summer Camp Experience serves special-needs children enrolled in the EFMP Program as well as their siblings.
“This is the sixth year the base has hosted the EFMP summer camp,” said Adreinne Barnett, 11th Forces Support Squadron EFMP support specialist. “It’s important because a lot of time when you have a child with special needs, it’s hard to find a camping experience for them. We decided to host a summer camp experience to give children a chance to have that outdoor experience, make friends and socialize.”
The camp, available to children between the ages of five and 13, offers a variety of different activities, including arts and crafts, science discovery, snack creation, tabletop games and sports.
“I really like being at camp,” said Andrea Houser, EFMP camper. “Going outside and playing dodgeball and tug of war was so much fun.”
According to Barnett, the camp has seen many improvements each year since its inception
“Through more funds provided by the Air Force, we’ve been able to upgrade our equipment and activities and take more field trips,” Barnett said.
This year, campers will have the opportunity to travel to Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Md. In the past, campers have been able to visit the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program and more.
The camp relies on mentors to achieve its mission of creating a safe and enjoyable environment for kids to interact with each other and gain a camp experience. This year’s mentors are composed entirely of Airmen and Sailors from the National Capital Region.
“One thing that makes our camp so special is our mentors,” Barnett said. “They really made our camp successful by always bringing high-energy, fun ideas. They’ve been phenomenal support.”
Barnett hopes that the camp will provide a gateway to more EFMP events in the future and create a network of support between families, healthcare providers and dedicated support staff.
“I enjoy interacting with the children and seeing them grow each day,” Barnett said. “The first day at camp, they might be sort of shy but, by the end, watching them make friends and enjoy being here gives me a good feeling. It lets me know we’re all providing a valuable experience to them and their families.”