Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg had super time at Camp Silvercloud 2023

Published 3:35 pm Friday, August 18, 2023

The Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg hosted Camp Silvercloud, a Warren County summer tradition for children and adults with special needs, from July 31 through Aug. 1 at Warner-Tully Camp.

This year’s rendition marked the second camp post-COVID-19 and had a superhero theme, said Camp Silvercloud project co-chair Johnna Riddick. The camp saw more participation than ever before, with 25 campers, 33 high school counselors, 20 JA members and two nurses. Providing dining services were nine Southern Belles kitchen volunteers.

Miss Mississippi Vivian O’Neal was also a guest at the camp.

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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. Riddick said this year, the Junior Auxiliary placed a big focus on improving offerings for campers and challenging them in ways that would build their confidence.

“It was nice to be able to take feedback from last year and say, what can we do to improve? I think that’s key to having an event that’s been for 20-plus years is making it successful by learning every year how to adjust,” Riddick said. “How many times do these kids and young adults get to do things like canoeing, slingshot and archery?”

Thanks to a grant from International Paper, Junior Auxiliary was able to increase its Camp Silvercloud budget this year, which not only helped improve activities but also meant the group could accommodate more campers.

This year, campers came from Jacob’s Ladder, Micah’s Mission and, for the first time, from Julia’s Place.

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

In addition to outdoor activities, campers participated in singing, dancing and arts and crafts. This year’s offerings also included a superhero scavenger hunt, which Riddick said was especially engaging for campers and counselors.

On the last day of the event, the campers participated in a talent show — a crowd favorite.

“Some of the campers start practicing as soon as they leave for the next year,” Riddick said. “And then there are other campers who, we ask them when they check in if they want to do the talent show. And if they don’t, that’s perfectly fine, but several of them, by the end, are ready to do their talent. Their counselors encourage them, the volunteers encourage them.”

It’s the spirit of community that makes Camp Silvercloud so special, she said, whether it’s the bond formed between campers or counselors or other volunteers. Helping other people find joy and feel a sense of accomplishment and belonging, she said, is what the camp is all about.

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.