UCS developmental services clients learn and craft with nature


BENNINGTON -- Clients of United Counseling Service's developmental services division finished out a week of conservation camp on Thursday by combining craft activities with nature at the One World Conservation Center on U.S. Route 7.

Funded by UCS, as well as grants from the Mt. Laurel Foundation and Price Chopper's Golub Foundation, the conservation camp gives intellectually-disabled adults a social and active outlet to learn new things and learn from each other.

"It's a great opportunity for them to learn and grow," said UCS director of community relations and development, Mike Veitch. "It's an opportunity to get something different: Something they may not get on a day-to-day basis."

One World Conservation camp director Holly Betit and her assistant Allison Capen helped individuals explore the park with the help of UCS staff.

"We have a very good blend of nature, arts, crafts, exercise and social time: It's been a very good week," Betit said.

Referred to the camp by their counselor, case manager or parent, campers could sign up for as many weeks as they like. They made textured artworks using leaves and flowers found in the park, made homemade fired clay beads, looked at creatures and insects from the park under magnification and decorated walking sticks for their walks along the trails.

"Some people overcame their fears with camp: They were able to look at spiders that they would normally not get close to," Betit said. "But, because it was contained, they had some curiosity and that happened all naturally."

Today, campers will wrap up the week with a pizza party and an awards ceremony to recognize bravery and leadership. The camp structure changes every year. Now in its third year, campers fill out evaluations so that the conservation center and UCS can coordinate activities according to what people liked.

"This camp has been a great success every year It always provides a great experience for hands-on learning that expands their world view in a positive way."

Developmental services at UCS is in the process of planning its annual "Gathering Place Camp" at Camp Ondawa in Arlington, which is an overnight camp that will take place the first week of August.

On Tuesday, 67 children from UCS's Youth and Family Services started "Camp Be a Kid," for the summer. The Lake Paran day camp will go until the start of the school year.

The camp programs are restricted to clients of UCS. See more about the organization's health services, programs and upcoming events at http://www.ucsvt.org/. Find the conservation center online at http://oneworldconservationcenter.org/.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg


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