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Eden Prairie Camp Catered Toward Kids With Disabilities

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) — Children and adults with disabilities don’t always get the same experiences as those without them, especially when it comes to summer camp.

But a new partnership is helping thousands of people with disabilities have a fun-filled summer. There’s a very special camp in Eden Prairie, where everyone is a “True Friend.”

A giant climbing net is one of the first things you see driving into Camp Eden Wood. And while cool, it’s only one of the many activities and adventures offered here for kids and adults with varying disabilities.

“Most of them don’t get more than two or three feet off the ground and to be able to get on a 50-foot tower, to go down a 50-foot zip line, to me that’s just really exciting,” said Ed Starke, the CEO of True Friends.

It is for the kids too. Every activity, every space here has been designed with their needs in mind. A new multi-sensory room was designed for children and adults with autism. Everything you see from colors to textures, even the low ceiling, helps satisfy a particular need.

“They can come down here, get to a very calm state and then go back out and focus on making social relationships, finding friends and engaging in things they haven’t tried before,” said Mel Kloek, a program director with Camp Eden Wood.

And every week there’s something new, geared toward a specific disability. This was art week

“We have weeks for people with Down Syndrome or people with autism and some sibling camp weeks,” said Program Director Laurie Tschetter.

Camp Eden Wood is one of five camps across the state, that fall under a new partnership called “True Friends.” It’s a $7 million venture providing memories that are priceless.

“When kids come to our camp, there’s a whole different sense of independence and some self-esteem building. They feel good about it,” Starke said.

True Friends still has openings at most of its camps through August.

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