Home Away From Home: Camp ClapHans

Megan Stanek and Elizabeth, Camper

She’s running with a smile that
could blind the sun. As her bright red shoes hit the yellow marked road,
therapists quickly chase her, hoping to keep up. They are all taking part in
the fun and laughter. The brightly colored walls of the center for kids with
complex disabilities have turned into the magical world of Oz for the little
girl. She is currently getting the best care possible in a children’s facility
that was built to feel like home. There’s no place like the JD McCarty Center.

The idea of any child going
through life consistently battling a complex disability can feel like a huge
storm that seems to go against the natural order of things. While the obstacles
that these children are facing can be overwhelming at times, the staff at the JD
McCarty Center is making it a little easier for kids to live free, strong and
independent. The entire staff greets you with a smile and the colorful
environment makes residents feel comfortable and happy. The center was
established in 1946, the new building was constructed in 2004 and the staff is
already looking forward to their next big adventure. Toward the southern part
of the complex, three newly constructed cabins await the arrival of kids ready
to take in all the fun of summer at Camp ClapHans.

JD McCarty CenterThe JD McCarty Center is continuing to extend
its services by finally opening their first residential camp. “The
commissioners were finding that after the summer season when the kids were
coming back, there was a regression. There weren’t services for kids with
special needs throughout the summer,” says Megan Stanek, Director of Camp
ClapHans. This will be the first year that kids are able to stay overnight and
truly have the camp experience. The camp serves children from 8 to 16 years old
with special needs. Not only will the camp offer a number of activities
including horseback riding, yoga, archery, swimming and other fun activities,
but Stanek and her team are hoping that the camp will also help further the
children’s social skills as well as their self-confidence. Camp ClapHans offers
a 1-to-1 ratio for campers to staff and will also house a full-time nurse. Not
limited to previous patients of the JD McCarty Center, children only need to
have a diagnosis to qualify.

The cabins at Camp ClapHans have
been specifically designed for children with special needs. It reminds you of
the camp experience that every child imagines combined with the updated
amenities that every adult dreams of. The cabins are set up to sleep six
campers and eight counselors. “Campers stay on the bottom bunk and unit
assistants are on the top,” says Stanek. The camp directors have taken every
precaution to ensure that the cabins are fully stocked with a nurse’s station
and everything they will need to serve the health demands of the children
throughout the summer weeks. “The biggest concern we’re getting from parents
right now is homesickness,” says Stanek. “We’re able to help with that!” Often
the campers do really well compared to their parents.

Elizabeth Gates, CamperOne camper that Stanek and her
team will not have to worry about is 12-year-old Emily Nelson. After hearing
about Camp ClapHans, Emily reminded her mom daily to ensure that there was a
bunk at the camp with her name on it. Emily and a buddy went to a local day
camp a few summers ago where she was able to participate in a number of outdoor
activities and she even won an award for catching the biggest fish. She left
that camp with one request of her mother: “She wanted to sleep in a bunk bed,”
says Joni Nelson. After doing research, the closest residential camp that the
Nelson family found was in Missouri. Once Joni finally learned about Camp
ClapHans, she immediately started the application process. “It just was the
perfect answer for us and she talks about it every single day.” Emily is most
excited about experiencing the camp life, but like any girl, she’s making sure
that there is enough room for her clothes and shampoo. “I just want her to get
out, make new friends and expand her experience of life,” says Nelson.

Stanek and her team are just as excited to
finally see their 12-year dream come to life. Sharla Bardin, public relations
representative for the center and camp, is already looking ahead to the camp’s
opening day. “The fact that we’re here, ready to go and wow families…we’re just
excited about it.”

Browse By Story Category

Advertise Your Business

Outlook readers are a dynamic, diverse audience of active consumers.

Advertise  >

The Edmond Outlook is the largest local, monthly magazine covering 50,000 homes with free, direct-mail delivery.

About Us  >

Browse Recent Issues

The Edmond Outlook is a monthly full-color, glossy magazine devoted to the Edmond area. Each exciting edition captures the vibrant personalities and interesting stories that define and connect us all.

View All  >