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Buddies are volunteer high-school students paired 1:1 with Campers to provide around-the-clock care and companionship. Our Buddies receive training on all aspects of their Camper's differences, including needs and challenges as well as likes and dislikes. Buddies earn 121 service hours for a week of residential camp, 101 service hours for a week of day camp, 40 hours of service for Mini-Camp and 6 hours of service for a Super Saturday. Buddies are expected to be selfless, dedicated, compassionate, energetic and fun.

How do I become a Buddy?

If you're entering high school, attend high school, or are a college student, you are eligible to become a Buddy. Please note that we accept Buddies based on the needs of the Campers. We recommend you select as many sessions as you are available to increase your chances of getting a spot. If you are not chosen and put on our waiting list, do not fear! We will continue to try to get you in for the sessions you selected on your application should someone need to back out. You will need to complete an online application and submit additional forms to be considered for a Buddy spot. An application is not complete and will not be considered until all required forms are submitted online. ​

What kind of training does a Buddy receive?

To become a Camp I Am Special Buddy, you will undergo an extensive training program that covers the following areas:

  • Safety and Security (including fire drills and inclimate weather training)

  • Seizure Protocol

  • Swimming Protocol

  • Adaptive Equipment

  • Lifting and Transferring

  • Positioning

  • Activity of Daily Living skill training

  • Introduction to basic behavior modification techniques

  • Communication through transitions, music, art and gesture


IMPORTANT NOTE:  New Buddies must attend a Virtual New Buddy Training. Once selected, you will receive an email with a sign-up link. This class is mandatory for new buddies before starting with Camp I Am Special. 

How are Buddies screened?

The Diocese of St. Augustine conducts Live Scan digital fingerprinting and criminal background checks on all volunteers over the age of 18. Additionally, the Department of Children and Families requires all volunteers - regardless of age - be scanned through its system prior to volunteering with Camp I Am Special. For selection into the Buddy program, Camp staff read each Buddy application and letter of recommendation. For situations when the application and recommendation letters are not enough, or clarification is needed, an interview may be requested. All Buddies attend a mandatory Buddy training meeting prior to attending Camp.  


Contact our Camp office for mandatory new Buddy training dates (904)230-7447

Additional Information​​

  • During the camp sessions, Buddies arrive on Sunday night and Campers arrive on Monday afternoon.

  • Training will take place before your session. The Sunday night of your session you will receive your Camper information with additional training on how to best care for your Camper.

  • Buddies need to commit to staying the entire camp session. You will not be allowed to come late, leave in mid-session, or leave early.

  • If you have any questions, please call our office at 904-230-7447

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