North Florida Council Draws Hundreds to Special Needs Camporee

10702113_893192667416105_9071775764020961032_nThere’s no limit to the fun, fulfilling experiences offered in the Scouting program. For the Scouts, Explorers, Venturers, and volunteers from the North Florida Council, they had the opportunity to share the adventures of Scouting with hundreds of children with special needs across their community.

Held at St. John’s River Base in Orange Park, Fla., the Learning For Life Special Needs Camporee kicked off Saturday, October 17 for a weekend of fun and games for attendees and volunteers alike. Guests were even invited to camp overnight. 

“The Special Needs Camporee was a huge success,” beamed Learning for Life Executive Michelle Thompson.

More than 600 participants, volunteers and families gathered for the camporee, with many volunteers joining from Order of the Arrow chapters, Boy Scout troops, Venturing crews, and Exploring posts. Michelle says Scouts ran and created numerous midway games for attendees to enjoy.

North Florida Council Special Needs Camporee

Organizations from all over Florida set up carnival-style booths to offer guests with special needs a memorable experience. Games, leather-working, crafts, fishing, food, and an exciting campfire had participants laughing and smiling for hours. 

Michelle says the camp has been running for about 24 years, with the medical team provided by the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Exploring Post. And thanks to their service, fire trucks, a police K-9 unit, and other equipment was on display.

Scouts have expressed that they truly enjoy seeing the joy from our participants in playing games, excitement on their faces from the boat rides, and laughter from performing their skits at the campfire,” Thompson shared.

Volunteers and participants expressed the upmost gratitude and excitement after attending the camporee. A volunteer from the Vietnam Veterans Association and Auxiliary Vietnam Veterans Association says he was blown away by the event and is looking forward to partaking again next year.

“Words can’t express what a humbling experience it was,” shared the volunteer. “Seeing the smiles on those children’s faces was so rewarding.”

special needs camporee

Participants expressed the same appreciation. In a note to camporee staff, one attendee sang the praises of all the volunteers who helped make the event a hit. 

“My entire family wants to thank each of you for allowing us to participate in the 2015 Camporee,” said A. Glover. “My grandson and entire family had a wonderful time. Please let park management, Scout leaders, and Scouts know how truly thankful we are for their hard work, polite assistance, and welcoming warm acceptance. You do not know how happy you made my family and we look forward to every opportunity to spend time together with the Scouts.” 

Want to participate in fun and rewarding events like this one? Head to to learn how you can become a Scouting volunteer or introduce your child to the program.


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Hayley Cordaro is a communications specialist at the Boy Scouts of America. She loves sharing inspiring success stories and uncovering new ways volunteers and employees can make the most of their Scouting experience. If you have story ideas or questions, reach out to us at