Orange County Insight September 2022

Therapeutic Adventure Camp of Orange Provides Great Summer Fun for Local Youth

By: Orange County Communications Department

The Therapeutic Adventure Camp of Orange, also known as TACO Camp, is a unique and meaningful summer opportunity for youth ages 9 - 19 with special needs or an individualized education program (IEP). During this weeklong event, participants enjoy many activities, such as arts and crafts, music, special presentations, and horseback riding. In fact, riding and equine education is the cornerstone of the camp, which was held this year at Elmwood Farm. Campers benefit from learning more about the care of horses, and get to experience the thrill of riding. The importance of the equine activities is captured in the TACO motto: “ Horses Helping Hands, Hearts, and Health. ” Aspects of that motto probably sound familiar, and it may not surprise readers to learn that the camp is an Orange

County 4 - H sponsored program. Extension Office staff members support many of the activities enjoyed by the campers, along with a dedicated crew of volunteers. Camp volunteers make a huge impact on the experience, and lives, of the campers. Typically, at the beginning of the week, campers are assigned to groups which remain consistent throughout the week. Volunteers paired with those groups also remain consistent, allowing for trust and long - term friendships to develop naturally.

In recognition of the role played by camp volunteers, an awards ceremony was held for the first time at the conclusion of the 2022 camp. These awards recognized particular contributions to this year ’ s camp by volunteers, as well as long - term commitment to the program through the distribution of “ Years of Service Awards. ”

Campers were also recognized for demonstrating the spirit of the program throughout the week. Many aspects of this year ’ s camp created opportunities for campers and volunteers to shine, not least of which was a round of storms which caused significant damage to many properties in Orange County, including Elmwood Farm. Reflecting the positive focus and resiliency which are the goals of the camp, volunteers managed cleanup debris, avoid any delays, and offer an amazing program to campers.

One of the first recognitions, the Rockstar Award, was presented to Ricardo Caal, whose many efforts helped make the camp possible. TACO Committee Chair, Jessica Gredler, said without him, “ I ’ m not sure what we would have done! ” Mr. Caal stepped into a leadership role, always had a smile on his face, and

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