Camp RISE offers new summer opportunity for local kids with special needs


Southington students with special needs now have the opportunity to spend their summer at a camp specially designed for children with physical, intellectual, and developmental impairments.

The Town of Southington Recreation Department is launching their new day camp for a summer of Recreation Integrated into Social Experiences (RISE). Camp RISE will be the first of its kind in town, run by Southington’s Recreation Director Dave Lapreay.

Camp Rise is open to special needs students in middle school and high school, and will run Mondays through Thursdays, July 11-21, from noon to 3 p.m.  at South End Elementary School on Maxwell Noble Dr., in Plantsville.

Campers will participate in a variety of activities each day, including hiking, arts and crafts, and physical games and exercises, that will help develop motor skills and social skills.

“The goal is to promote wellness and independent living skills, as well as build self-esteem, confidence, and a connection to their community,” said Lepreay. “It’s a way for them to get out, socialize, and be in a group setting and a park setting.”

The idea began about six months ago when Lapreay met with a group of parents looking for summer activities for their children with special needs. Lapreay said he then worked closely with parents, the Board of Education, and school administrators to get the project off the ground.

“It has really been a total team effort,” he said.

For the opening season, RISE will welcome a total 25 campers into the program, with 12 spots still available. Lapreay said they are hoping to fill every spot and are still accepting new registrations.

Lapreay said that this summer will serve as a pilot program that he hopes to expand next year to include students of all ages, from elementary school to age 21.

In addition to building a professional camp staff led by director Desiree Daigle, Camp RISE relied heavily on community support.

“The response has been phenomenal,” said Lapreay.

So far the camp has raised nearly $9,000 from local businesses, residents, and organizations including the Rotary Club of Southington, the Special Olympics Connecticut Golf Tournament, the Southington Lions Club, and UNICO of Southington.

For students interested in registering for RISE’s first summer season, registration forms and medical forms are available at Town Hall at 75 Main St. or can be mailed to P.O. Box 571, Southington, CT, 06489. Registration is open until July 1.

Students who are also enrolled in the summer ESY program at Southington High School will receive transportation to camp each day. All students will need to be picked up at South End at 3 p.m.

The cost to attend Camp RISE is $120 per person.

To pre-register or for more information, call the Recreation Department at 860-276-6219.

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