Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design and Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture have partnered with Extra Special People Inc. to build Camp Hooray, the first-of-its-kind, fully accessible overnight camp for children and young adults with developmental disabilities.
Located on a 70-acre parcel of land in Jackson County, the camp will have traditional camp activities including music, sports and games, art, swimming, boating, archery, field days, talent shows and overnight stays-while providing a safe, fun and meaningful experience for campers of all abilities.
The project would use the land design expertise of UGA’s College of Environment and Design and Georgia Tech’s architecture expertise to make the space sustainable and feature accessible design for residential cabins, outdoor spaces and common areas around a small rural lake. A public design process called a charrette will be conducted Jan. 29-31 on site and at 225 W. Broad St. in Athens.
Throughout the semester the students will meet with volunteers, donors and parents of campers to share ideas and critiques and weigh alternatives.
“Our students gain practical experience through real-world projects,” said Dan Nadenicek, UGA’s College of Environment and Design dean. “The studio environment and service-learning are unique among all teaching settings and leads to strong friendships and lifetime associations.”
Steve French, dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture, said, “Our students and faculty are constantly breaking new ground in design … from health care devices to musical instruments; buildings to neighborhoods; cities to mega-regions, the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech is designing the future. Now, they are breaking new ground and making a difference in a place for kids who are often overlooked or forgotten.”
For Extra Special People, Camp Hooray is an opportunity to expand its mission beyond the state. For 30 years, Extra Special People, based in Watkinsville, has focused its mission on enhancing the lives of children with developmental disabilities and their families by emphasizing their abilities, not disabilities.
Additionally, an Athens-area civil engineering and landscape architecture firm, Williams and Associates, which is associated with ESP programs in Watkinsville, has provided its assistance to the colleges.
Both deans agree the partnership should continue after this project. A memorandum of understanding between the two colleges creates the “Georgia Design Collaboration.” An annual publication, Georgia Design Matters, will create a permanent record of this project and future collaborations.
The goal is for Camp Hooray to accommodate up to 90 campers. Each camper requires two counselors and additional support staff so there would be a 2-1 ratio of staffers to campers. The camp, still in the fundraising phase, is approximately three to five years away from full operations, but some activities at the site this summer may be planned.