Four years ago, Community Options, a national nonprofit organization that has been developing supports for people with developmental disabilities since 1989, started the iMatter Surf Camp for Children with Autism. The first one-day, free camp was held at Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton, New York. The first camp had 22 children participate. The camp was so successful that each subsequent year the camp has been held, it has significantly grown. In 2009, the camp had over 300 people participate from all over the country.
The camp is one day and free and the organization provides lunch to all that participate. This year, registration will begin at 9:30am following a brief prayer service and song performance in loving memory of Kristen Bednar; the camps lead volunteer who passed tragically in a snowmobile accident in January. Following the service, children will be paired up with their volunteers for the day and start surfing. The children are assigned a one-to-one volunteer who they surf tandem with all day. With a quick break for lunch, the children are always eager to get back in the water and surf until the day wraps up between 4pm-5pm.
The camp has become so popular that businesses all across the country have jumped on board to become sponsors. This year, the camp has received support from thirteen businesses.
O'Brien Drywall Unlimited, Inc.
Birch Lane Elementary School
Global Surf Industries
Fourth Wall Events
Fifth Room Creative
Dynamic Drape and Decor
"We are so proud of the iMatter Surf Camp and what it has become," says, Robert Stack, President and CEO of Community Options. Stack indicates that the camp has taken on a life of its own and that people are incredibly pleased with the day they are offered to have their children positively included in their community and with their peers.
"Global Surf Industries is very proud to be able to support iMatter Surf Camp. Our company mantra is life is better when you surf and you can see the personification of this every time we attend one of these events," says Ed Gerbino of Global Surf Industries.
Global Surf Industries has become an in-kind sponsor to the camp by donating foam boards to Community Options that the children can use at the camp.
Another in-kind sponsor of the camp is Cancos Tile. Cancos has been involved with the camp since its inception and they provide the hundreds of the very popular t-shirts that are made every year.
"We couldn't be more proud than to be sponsoring the surf camp. It is a tremendous day for us to be able to give a little back to the community and help out in a special way for this cause," says Mark Valva, President of Cancos. Valva says the expressions and feelings that are created as a result of the camp makes it even more of a spectacular day.
Kim Walls, CEO of Episencial, a Los Angeles-based company has sent thousands of organic sunscreen samples for all the participants of the surf camp. Walls said, "At Episencial we believe in the developmental benefits of touch and play. Our all natural formulas are designed to enhance these experiences, helping to create healthy grooming rituals that serve children throughout their lives."
Some of the sponsors utilize the camp as a way for their employees to volunteer in the community and there are volunteers that have been involved with the camp since it started. Jeff Guberman, President of Fourth Wall Events and Dynamic Drape and Decor says," We are thrilled to help Community Options with the iMatter Surf Camp. We believe that helping the community is an important responsibility of any business. When you see the look of happiness on the faces of the children, you know that it is all worth it.
One sponsor company is thrilled to be a sponsor of the event because of what the message of the organization is. ""Here at Little Busy Bodies, Inc, we believe that all people should have the opportunity to excel and be the best person they can be. Community Options camps bolster self-confidence and empower people with disabilities to be all that they can be in their day-to-day lives; we are proud to support such strong ideals," says, Julie Pickens, CEO of Little Busy Bodies, Inc.
The iMatter Surf Camp for Children with Autism will be taking place on Saturday, August 14, 2010 from 9:30am-4:00pm at Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton, NY.
For more information about the camp, please visit www.comop.org/surf_camp or you can fan the camp on Facebook. There is a press pass required for this event and to obtain a press pass, please contact Jessica Guberman at email@example.com or 973-390-0357.
Community Options is a national nonprofit organization that has been developing homes and employment supports for people with disabilities since 1989.