The comments heard around midnight could have come from any of the campers assembled last month as part of the Inclusive Indoor Camping Trip held on the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus.
“I do not want to go to bed. When we do, this will be almost over. I do not want it to end.”
For the third time, the Technology Learning Center, along with the TRIAD Service AmeriCorps members -- both affiliated with the Southern Miss Institute for Disability Studies -- hosted the unique camping adventure. The camping trip, a combination of indoor and outdoor fun, was established to give youth and young adults with disabilities the chance to participate in a camping experience.
TRIAD, which stands for “Training, Resources and Information for the Advancement of Disability service,” is a national service program focused on increasing the number of youth with disabilities who transition into adulthood. Twenty TRIAD Service AmeriCorps members, youth and young adults with and without disabilities, are included in this program. These members shares their personal stories, participate in educational skits, provide mentoring services and promote having fun through recreational events such as the camping trip.
“The camping trip has become a yearly highlight of campers as well as the AmeriCorps members and staff,” said TRIAD Coordinator Dr. Jerry R. Alliston. “This is one of many activities that are held to promote recreational opportunities for all.”
A total of 25 persons participated in this year’s one-night camping that began on June 22 with campers attending an inclusive tennis and softball clinic at Southern Miss. After the clinic, everyone participated in introductory games and then rode kayaks or visited the mall.
The night consisted of a cookout, games and staying up late. To beat the heat at night, campers had the option to sleep in the TLC building with air conditioning or rough it outside on the campus grounds. All campers chose to sleep indoors.
The next day, the remaining campers had fun at Gulf Islands Water Park before having one last cookout. Activities were held through collaboration with TLC staff and University of South Alabama undergraduate therapeutic recreation students. The camping trip was offered at no cost for those attending on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The TRIAD program will end in August after two successful years of providing national service. TRIAD is a program of the Institute for Disability Studies at The University of Southern Mississippi and is funded through Volunteer Mississippi. TRIAD complements the long-standing history of IDS to provide quality services for all people with disabilities including youth and young adults.
For more information about Project TRIAD and other IDS projects, please call 1.601.266.5163 or 1.888.671.0051 or visit the Institute’s Web site at www.usm.edu/ids.