In April, more than 200 students from UT Knoxville spent a week helping children with disabilities at Camp Koinonia.
The Therapeutic Recreation program at UT hosts the weeklong camp that provides children with multiple disabilities with an outdoor, educational experience. More than 150 campers between the ages of 7 and 21 participated in canoeing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, music and movement, cooking, and games during the six-day program. The camp took place at the Clyde M. York 4-H Training Center in Crossville, Tennessee.
The UT students serve as counselors and activity staff at Camp Koinonia. Students come from all majors, but many are in programs such as therapeutic recreation, child and family studies, psychology, and special education. Students are required to take a fourteen-week course to prepare them for working with children with disabilities.
“Camp K has given me a chance to help others and provide a positive social interaction among the campers,” said Jenni Prince, a UT senior in marketing (’12). This was Prince’s second year working at the camp, and she was a head counselor this year.
The campers, who come from surrounding counties and schools near UT, have disabilities that include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hearing and visual impairment, spinal bifida, autism, and muscular dystrophy.
Gene Hayes, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, founded Camp Koinonia in 1977 at Virginia Tech. In 1986, Hayes brought Camp Koinonia to UT. Koinonia comes from the Greek word meaning “fellowship” and “caring community.” The camp allows the disabled children to interact with their peers and UT students while working on key behaviors.