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Niagara Falls
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Fun in spades at Red Roof Retreat’s summer camp
Campers and staff at Red Roof Retreat spend some time with their favourite donkey. (Somer Slobodian)
Avianna couldn't wait to have her picture taken last Thursday during Red Roof Retreat's summer camp. (Somer Slobodian)
Shauna Press smiles for a photo with Amelia, who has been coming to Red Roof Retreat's summer camp since she was four. (Somer Slobodian)
William and Lily brush the donkey at Red Roof Retreat during its summer camp program. (Somer Slobodian)
Lily spends some time brushing the donkey at Red Roof Retreat in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (Somer Slobodian)

Red Roof Retreat’s summer camp is a place full of animals, crafts, horse-drawn buggy rides and smiles. 

“I just love the fact that you can see the joy on their faces,” said Shauna Press, the recreational program coordinator at Red Roof Retreat.

“I love that feeling of knowing that they’re happy, they’re doing things they enjoy,” she added.

Press has been running the six-week summer camp program at Red Roof for about seven years.

“We have themes every week, and the kids can come and the parents can know that they can drop them off, and they’re in a safe space,” she added.

Back in March when Red Roof Retreat opened registration for the camp, it reached capacity within two days. This year, 18 more families signed up to take part.

“It’s popular because we take everybody, so it’s not exclusive to a certain disability,” she said.

For 10-year-old Amelia, one of her favourite parts about summer camp is going to the park, and being a role model to some of the younger kids.

Press said Amelia has been coming to the program since she was four.

“We call her our junior counsellor because she helps out with a lot of the younger kids,” said Press.

Amelia said she loves the horse and buggy rides she gets to go on because it’s led by her favourite horse on the farm, Wonder. 

While animals are a huge part of the experience — Red Roof has ducklings, a pig, a goat, horses and even a donkey — there are plenty of different activities for the kids to enjoy.

For example, there are sensory bins for kids who need and benefit from sensory play (activities that stimulate a child’s senses).

They also have arts and crafts and even do tie-dye with the kids. 

“It’s just such a great environment. I love it,” said Press.

The 18 new families that joined the Red Roof this year started out in Press’ Saturday day camp to get a feel for it, she said.

“It’s kind of nice to keep the movement going,” she said. 

The Saturday day camp will start up again around the same time school starts. 

Anyone interested in learning more about the programs at Red Roof Retreat can visit redroofretreat.com.

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