Blowing bubbles. Jumping to the beat. Nothing but praise.
It's not every day teens and young adults toss off the sunglasses of their cool selves and dive into joy.
This week there are three such days for volunteers at God's Special Kids Camp, a short vacation program for 12 disabled youth put on by Covenant Grove Church.
"It's not embarrassing. It's just fun to let loose and have fun with them," said college student Andrew Arroyo, taking a break between dances. On Wednesday, Arroyo took a day off from his part-time jobs to help out.
Being a special buddy rocks, said Enochs High sophomore Andrew Borges. "It's all about helping him out, helping him learn about God and havin' a good time," Borges said as he peeled modeling clay off his young charge's shoe
Wednesday's activities were held at Modesto Covenant Church, Covenant Grove's parent church.
Having a ball
In rooms filled with smiling, patient people and upbeat pop songs, Joe Eldridge found inspiration in Effie Linares, a 14-year-old having a blast singing and Nerf bowling.
"Truly, it's easy to be pretty down about things. But he's happy about everything. And I'm thinking, if this guy's happy, how come I'm not?" Eldridge said.
Camp director Jean Cheng-Gorman said her campers have a range of needs from developmental delays to autism.
Helpers did some research to be ready, for example offering a quiet room with blocks and coloring if autistic campers needed some space. Every special kid has a buddy and extra helpers are at the ready.
"We got community feedback that this is a need. A fun summer camp is something that a lot of them have never had before," Cheng-Gorman said.
Pastor Scott Nelson said the program fit with the church's philosophy of doing something "a little different."
While some apprehension came with the decision, he said the congregation rose to the challenge.
"It's really a victory in our own church. We got to help in growing a heart for people who often go unnoticed," Nelson said.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2339.