Thursday, June 13, 2013

An Extraordinary Venture

{Side note: I celebrated one year at my job yesterday! Hot dog.}

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog programming. {Blogramming, if you will allow me.}

The short week after Memorial Day, I volunteered each day at the Spectrum Skills Camp at Extraordinary Ventures, which is an organization that focuses on creating opportunities to fit the needs and capabilities of autistic and developmentally challenged individuals. Not only does EV give these individuals a place to hang out and socialize {especially with its bi-weekly Friday Night Live! events and the camp}, but they create employment opportunities for these individuals - both within EV and through connections with outside institutions. EV was actually named the Non-Profit of the Year by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce. It is a wildly awesome organization, and the people that work there, both regular staff and the autistic individuals who attend events, are wildly inspiring.

One of my friends/acquaintances works at EV, and he put out a call on facebook for volunteers for the camp. Since I work from home, I was available, and I immediately decided I wanted to participate. Turns out this was a great decision.

campers doing zumba

The camp was generally a basketball camp, so each morning the campers did about an hour of basketball drills. There were about 15-17 campers, all between the ages of 17-36. Morning basketball was followed by crafts, lunch {each day sponsored by a different local eatery - very cool}, and then an afternoon activity, which was different each day: a basketball movie {Like Mike}; a visit to the UNC Men's Basketball Museum; and field day at a local park. The final day was the culmination of the week, and the campers got to play a real scrimmage in Carmichael Arena, which is a gynmasium on the UNC campus. The women's basketball team plays there now, and before the Dean Dome was built, the men's team played there, too - meaning that MJ himself played in this building!

teams shaking hands post-game
A very cool aspect of the scrimmage was that Jones Angell, the "voice of the TarHeels," came to announce the game. Not only did it make it seem like a real game {parents and friends were invited too, of course!}, but many of the campers are huge UNC basketball fans so it was very exciting to meet the man behind the famous voice! He was very nice and did a wonderful job.

Jones Angell & {sweaty!} camper Scott
Once we returned back to EV on the final day, we got to enjoy an awards ceremony, complete with cake, trophies, and certificates.

It was obvious that all of the campers had a very fun week - though camp didn't start until 9:30am, many campers arrived by 8:30 or earlier every morning! I met a lot of very cool people, and every one was so inspiring to me. There was never any talk about what couldn't be done - only talk about how much fun they were having and what they were able to do. It was an honor working with these individuals, and even I had a ton of fun that week {probably did a little too much hustling for my therapist's liking. whoops!}. I'm planning on going back to EV soon for a Friday Night Live! event!

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