Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg hosts another magical year at Camp Silvercloud

Published 4:39 pm Monday, August 1, 2022

Last week, the Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg (JAV) hosted Camp Silvercloud, a beloved Warren County summer tradition for children and adults with special needs.

Held at Warner-Tully Memorial YMCA Camp July 25 to 26, the camp returned this year after a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19.

“Camp Silvercloud is such an extraordinary experience,” said Baleigh Ford, Camp Silvercloud project chair.  “We know how important this camp is to our campers and their families, and it was truly a privilege to chair Silvercloud this year after a few years without it.”

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JAV members said they are “incredibly grateful” to the many volunteers, sponsors and supporters that make the camp and other service projects possible.

With the help of many volunteers, the camp gives children and adults with special needs a chance to experience camp life with specialized attention — with each camper being paired with an individual counselor.

“There are so many people throughout Vicksburg who step up to make sure we have what we need to make camp successful,” Ford said.

This year the camp had 34 student volunteer counselors, 16 campers, as well as Junior Auxiliary members, registered nurses and The Southern Belles kitchen volunteers.

“The bond between the campers and counselors is unforgettable,” Ford said. This year, Camp Silvercloud incorporated Disney-themed activities. Campers experienced a wide range of activities from canoeing and archery, to singing, dancing and arts and crafts. On the last day of the event, the campers participate in a talent show — a crowd favorite.

“I always have tears in my eyes watching the talent show; it is very emotional for me to see the excitement of each participant as they sing or tell jokes or share their talent with us as well as watch the enthusiasm from all the volunteers,” said Kristi Sherburn, whose son, Andrew, has been coming to camp since 2017.

But campers and families aren’t the only ones who love the talent show. The high-school volunteers who serve as counselors also look forward to it each year.

“It was an experience like no other,” said Sawyer McCain, a first-time counselor who plans to help out again next year. “There was so much joy in the room.”

As the mother of a special needs child, Sherburn said she understands the ups and downs of working with her son.

“Camp Silvercloud is an immense blessing for our family. It provides our autistic son, Andrew, with the opportunity to go to camp that he would not have otherwise. He loves and looks forward to camp each year,” Sherburn said. “These ladies and teenagers bless us so much by providing him with this extra special opportunity, and I would like to thank every person who helped to make it happen.”

Junior Auxiliary is a national non-profit organization that provides charitable services, which are beneficial to the general public, with particular emphasis on children. The Vicksburg Chapter is dedicated to community improvement by meeting the needs of children, youth, and families. To learn more, visit their website www.javicksburg.org.