Like many of his peers, Austin will have a story about summer camp when he returns to school in the fall. Austin had a taste of flying on the high-ropes course at ARISE at the Farm. “This is awesome!” he shouted while suspended more than twenty feet in the air. When his feet finally touched the ground, he added: “I was scared and happy at the same time.”
ARISE at the Farm is an inclusive recreational facility at a 77-acre working horse farm in Chittenango open to people of all abilities. The Farm has indoor and outdoor horseback riding, accessible cart driving, a fishing pond with an accessible dock, high- and low-ropes courses, and a 7/8-mile paved path for walking and cycling of all kinds. In the summer, the Farm runs week-long summer day camps for children with and without disabilities.
Every day from August 22 to 26, Austin joined thirteen other Oswego County children who have disabilities and five children who have a sibling with a disability for a week of Farm Camp. Many of the children have Autism or a physical disability that requires some one-on-one assistance. ARISE at the Farm provides camp counselors and camp volunteers who have experience engaging children with sensory issues, communication challenges and physical disabilities, allowing the children and their siblings a memorable summer camp experience.
At the Farm, youth with disabilities have a camp where they can participate in everything. Youth who have a sibling with a disability not only can enjoy camp with their brother or sister, but also with other children of all abilities, learning something about themselves and their siblings in the process.
Every morning, most of the Oswego County children boarded a bus in Oswego along with two ARISE staff for supervision. The bus traveled to Fulton and Central Square to pick up more children before reaching its destination in Chittenango. Once at the Farm, the Oswego County kids made new friends with other children of all abilities living in Central New York.
The campers visit the petting zoo or use the bicycles, tricycles, hand-cycles and cycle-cars on the paved people path. They visit the fishing pond, the ropes courses, and the arts and crafts area, where they can make items and tie-dye shirts. The highlight for most of the kids is the horseback riding, and many have their favorite horse. Austin lets other campers ahead of him in line so he makes sure he can ride Isaac, the biggest horse in the ARISE stable.
The last day of camp is marked by a dance party in the riding arena and attempting to break that week’s piñata. All the campers get to take home the t-shirts they tie-dyed earlier in the week. A week that started with a mix of excitement from returning campers and hesitation from first-year campers and their parents ended with new friendships made and a bus full of tired but smiling children.
For more information on ARISE programs in Oswego County or for Oswego County residents, contact Sabine Ingerson at 342-4088 x210.
ARISE is a non-profit Independent Living Center run by and for people with disabilities. The organization has been providing advocacy and services since 1979, and each year ARISE works with approximately 4,000 people of all ages who have all types of disabilities. ARISE has offices in Onondaga, Oswego, and Madison Counties and operates ARISE at the Farm, a 77-acre recreational facility in Chittenango, NY, and ARISE & Ski at Toggenburg Winter Sports Center in Fabius, NY.