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Outdoor Adventure Camp helps Special Olympics athletes learn new skills, refine old ones

by Anna Campbell | November 14, 2021 at 5:05 a.m. | Updated November 14, 2021 at 1:31 p.m.
Jade Washington laughs as she runs an Radio Controlled car into some of the inflatable furniture at the Special Olympics Missouri's Outdoor Adventure event on Saturday, November, 13 at the Missouri Special Olympics' campus in Jefferson City, Mo. (Ethan Weston/News Tribune photo)

Special Olympics athletes learned outdoor skills and techniques through games Saturday at the Special Olympics Missouri Outdoor Adventure Camp, the first event of its kind.

The camp was offered in partnership with Bass Pro Shops, which provided all the materials for the event and also supplies other events throughout the year. It was hosted at the Training for Life Campus.

Susan Shaffer, Training for Life outreach and campus program director and Bass Pro liaison for the event, said: "I hope they take away that there's more learning about the outdoors, about what it's like to go out fishing for kids with disabilities or adults with disabilities, have that opportunity to go out in the community."

In mid-November, the weather is cold, so the event was planned for indoors, Shaffer said, but athletes still got to try things they could do outdoors.

Athletes learned about archery as they fired magnetic-tipped arrows at dart-board-type bullseyes. They learned about casting as part of the fishing unit, catching plastic fish that could be hooked and pulled along. They played cornhole with jumbo bags and operated remote control cars.

"It was really cool to see the athletes getting to do those types of activities that they can do outside," she said.

The event is also about teaching the athletes "in an environment they enjoy," Shaffer said.

This helps them learn the technique and take it with them out into the community.

About 15 participants ages 8-24 came throughout the day.

"Everybody seemed to enjoy it today and was really glad that we're starting to offer more programming, and part of the deal is that some of the people that were here today had never been in our building. So they got to see more of our stuff that we're going to offer," Shaffer said.

There's a workout room, and some people were excited to see their son or daughter could come work out during the week.

The facilities are open to anyone involved in Special Olympics. If people have special needs and want to be involved but aren't yet, Shaffer said they can fill out paperwork and use the facility.

Shaffer said the organization is wrapping up bowling season and will soon head into basketball, and in the spring there will be track and field, swimming, powerlifting and volleyball.

Shaffer said it's also planning individual camps and weekend events that will be coming up soon.

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