Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Surf's Up for These Special Campers

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Surf's Up for These Special Campers

Article excerpt

In an effort to provide innovative recreation programming for children with disabilities, the Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Department conducted a weeklong special spring break surf camp earlier this year. The camp, which allowed youngsters with autism to learn how to surf, was developed through a unique partnership between the city of Miami Beach and the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.

Eleven campers, ages 11-15, studied basic oceanography and meteorology, discovered the fundamentals of open-water surfing at South Pointe Park, and learned snorkeling skills. Assisted by lifeguards and supplemental staff, campers rode their first waves under the watchful eyes of the city's Ocean Rescue Division.

The most rewarding experience? Hands down, it was the smiles and laughter coming from the children as they stood up on the boards with the swell of the waves behind them. The campers' parents were incredibly thankful and supportive, but one parent described it best in a letter she wrote to the department:

What we found with our dear surf camp was an ideal vacation from the real world, yet a bridge to that same world. …

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