The Giving Camp opens for disabled
|Daily File Photo
Eight mentally and
physically challenged adults from Medford and
Somerville participated in the trial run of The
Giving Camp this Monday.
Senior Staff Writer
The first trial day of The Giving
Camp, a program organized by Tufts students as a camp
for local citizens with physical and mental challenges,
took place on campus this Monday.
Monday was only the test day for The Giving Camp, which
is planning to run its first full-week project during
this year's spring break. Organizers intended Monday to
help them to work out any kinks in the program.
During the test run, eight adult
guests from the Walnut Street Center in Somerville were
paired with Tufts students who helped them throughout
The morning began with
dancing and aerobics in the Gantcher Center. The guests
then participated in arts and crafts projects, painting
pumpkins and drawing pictures. After enjoying lunch in
Dewick, they were also treated to performances from the
Beelzebubs, TURBO, and Spirit of Color. After the
performances, the guests sang and danced with University
Plans for The Giving Camp
were set in motion when Diane Ricciardelli, a Tufts
alumni, decided to design a program for citizens of the
Medford and Somerville community with physical and
mental challenges. Ricciardelli, now the executive
director of The Giving Camp, volunteered at a similar
camp for 16 years. This camp had a five-year wait list
and had was rather expensive to attend, and Ricciardelli
started a new camp that would be free of charge to its
guests as an alternative.
"I knew I
wanted it to be on a college campus," Ricciardelli said.
"Tufts was [the] natural place because the University
Chaplaincy has done similar work."
After meeting with the provost and the University
College of Citizenship and Public Service (UCCPS),
Ricciardelli spoke to the Omidyar Scholars. From this
group, a student leadership team of four students was
Organizers hope that The
Giving Camp will serve as a model for similar programs
at area universities if the expansion of the program to
a full week during this year's spring break is
"People want to go to
these camps and people want to volunteer," Ricciardelli
said. "We just need to get the facilities."
The full week program will attempt to attract
citizens of all ages from different places in the
Medford and Somerville area. Ideally, 40 guests will
attend the camp during spring break
The goal of the camp is to create a place where citizens
of the community can have opportunities in a respected
and economical way, according to Leslie Wang, one of the
student leaders of the project.
"People don't see these citizens as citizens," Wang
said. "The needs of people who attend The Giving Camp
aren't always well addressed."
other members of the student leadership team besides
Wang are juniors Corey Probst and Christina Zahara, and
sophomore Zachariah Baker. The team met bi-weekly at
first and then more frequently, planning the project as
well as training volunteers for the test day.
"It's a great program for Tufts to be proud of,"
Wang said. "It can happen annually and across the
The student leadership team
was aided by a steering committee made up of mostly
administrators and University staff. The steering
committee will help students to plan events and ensure
that The Giving Camp is a sustainable program.
In order to expand the Giving Camp to
a full-week program, many more volunteers are needed. If
40 guests attend, at least 80 volunteers will be
necessary to maintain the desired guest-to-volunteer
ratio. Organizers hope to involve more students,
especially those in the areas of Child Development and
leaders also want alumni to get involved, especially
those who are teachers and nurses. They are also
exploring the possibility of establishing internships to
make the opportunity more attractive to students who
need to work for financial reasons.
Even though there were small glitches that need to be
fixed before the complete expansion of the project, Wang
was satisfied with the day.
enjoyed the activities, particularly the performances by
the Beelzebubs, TURBO and SOC. "They really got the
energy going and interacted well with the guests," Wang
Those working on the Giving Camp
are excited about both the results of Monday's test day
and the future of the program. "A lot of our work showed
through and that made everyone really proud," Wang