Camp Fatima of New Jersey is an all-volunteer camp for children who are mentally and/or physically handicapped. For more than 45 years, Camp Fatima has provided special boys and girls an opportunity to get away for a week and enjoy myriad activities that they may never experience otherwise. Because Camp Fatima takes care to match each child with his or her own counselor, it is able to accept children who might require more attention. In addition to the counselor support staff, the camp includes staff for the kitchen and arts and crafts, as well as nursing, lifeguard, and activities staff. The staff-to-camper ratio is five to two. There is no charge for campers and their families. Those who age out of the summer camp are invited to participate in an Adult Weekend Program offered two weekends in the fall and two weekends in the spring, also free of charge. Volunteers from our parish and High School attend and support this worthwhile endeavor.
HEAVEN’S SPECIAL CHILD
Author presently unknown
A meeting was held quite far from earth,
It’s time again for another birth.
Said the angels to the Lord above;
This special child will need much love
His progress may be very slow,
Accomplishments he may not show.
And he’ll require extra care,
From the folks he meets down there,
He may not run or laugh or play,
His thoughts may seem quite far away.
In many ways he won’t adapt, and he’ll
Be known as handicapped.
So let’s be careful where he is sent, we want
His life to be content.
Please, Lord, find the good friends who, will
Do a special job for you.
They will not realize it right away, the leading
Role they’re asked to play.
But with this child sent from above, comes
Stronger faith and richer love.
And soon they will know the privileges given,
In caring for their gift from Heaven.
Their precious charge, so meek and mild, in
Heaven’s very special child.
“Camp Fatima Adult Camps are weekend sessions for adults ages 21 and above with developmental disabilities. The camp is free to campers, and run completely by volunteers. This past spring I had the privilege of attending Camp Fatima, along with a group of high school student volunteers. For many of us this was our first time attending. We learned that for many of the adult campers this is the only “get away” they may have all year from their daily routines or group homes, and also the only weekend off for some of their caregivers. They arrive bubbling with excitement, and it is contagious. As unfamiliar as this may have been on the ride up, within minutes you are swept up into the wonderful atmosphere of this special place. The organizers go all out to make it the best weekend possible. The days are full of usual camp activities such as, a hike to the lake for the group pictures, kick ball games, arts and crafts, competitions, and special activities based around the camp theme for that year. Saturday night is a much anticipated dance with a live band, and the campers are very excited to get all dressed up, have a blast, and dance the night away. It was unbelievable how much we learned and the bonds we formed with these amazing adults over just one weekend. On the ride home the students were excitedly talking about their wonderful experiences and planning their return.” – Debbie Berger
“This past spring, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Camp Fatima through my school. I did not know what to expect, but I knew it would be a great experience. After I arrived and unpacked, I began to greet the campers, who were super excited (and some nervous) for the weekend, and their families. When the campers finished unpacking, we all went into the main cabin and really began to meet the campers. I must admit, I was a little scared at first because I was not used to being around people with disabilities, so I had a rough start. As the weekend went on, I found out how amazing these people really are. I will never forget the people I met that weekend, and all of the wonderful memories that were made. The atmosphere at Camp Fatima is unbelievably loving and spontaneous and the whole weekend was honestly probably one of the best weekends of my life. I am so glad I had and took the opportunity to go to Camp Fatima and interact with the campers that go there, it was definitely a life changing experience.” – Lacey Berger