During the summer everyone likes to take a break from their typical routines. Special needs adults are no different, and for the last 40 years many have chosen to attend OARC Summer Camp.

Tammy McArthur, executive director of OARC Carter County Group Homes, said the camp was first held at various campsites around the Oklahoma City Area, but they moved to Lake Murray in 1979 — and have been there every year since. This year, the camp took place at Group Camp One from Thursday, June 13 to Sunday, June 16.

“It’s all run by volunteers,” McArthur said. “We use Carter County Group Homes to staff it, so they are all trained to work with adults with intellectual disabilities.” She added that family members and additional volunteers help make the camp as fun as possible for all the attendees. This year there were 68 campers who came from all across the state.

McArthur said the campers spend the night in the cabins, and when they get up in the morning there is a nurse on site to ensure they get their medication. Then the fun really begins. She said during the cooler morning hours campers get to enjoy activities such as horseback riding, motorcycle rides, and cruising the lake on a pontoon boat.

When it warms up in the afternoons, the activity moves indoors where they enjoy arts and crafts time and games like bingo. The evenings also have special entertainment.

“Friday night we had a talent show, and nearly everyone but about four people participated,” McArthur said. She added that on Saturday night a local DJ sets up his equipment so everyone can enjoy a dance party.

McArthur pointed out that many of these adults have day jobs back home, so they all look forward to this yearly get away, and campers are not required to participate in any particular event. 

“This is their vacation time, and if they don’t want to participate they don’t have to,” McArthur said. “Some of them want to just sit under the shade of a tree and chill out, and we let them do that. But if they want to try any activity, this gives them the chance.”