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'Hidden gem' of a summer camp in Virginia Beach serves children of all abilities

camp grom.jpg
Posted at 5:41 AM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 10:13:22-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – On a 70-acre site tucked away near General Booth Boulevard sits J.T.’s Camp Grom.

It was originally opened by the Virginia Gentlemen Foundation and operated by the YMCA of South Hampton Roads. Camp Grom was designed as a retreat for wounded veterans and their families, the families of fallen war heroes and those with various physical and mental challenges.

Typically, in past summers Camp Grom hosted various groups, but for the first time, the YMCA is holding its own camp for children of all abilities to have fun together.

“A lot of that hosting was partnering with other organizations and bringing their kids to our camp and facilitating camp for them,” said Todd Heinecke, district vice president of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads. “But this is the first year the YMCA has run our own summer day camp here.”

“I think it’s pretty cool. There are definitely a lot of fun things you can do,” said camper Lilyan Gerlach.

Camp Grom still works very closely with many of those community groups listed above. Now, even more people have the chance to see what it's all about.

The site mostly has outdoor features but also has indoor space. There’s a small lake for fishing and kayaking. There’s even a cable-powered tube for riders to cross the lake and a chair lift to assist those with physical disabilities to get them in and out of the water safely.

The Y says all activities have adaptive gear so nearly anyone can participate.

Related: Outdoor summer camps in Hampton Roads gain popularity

“Our gymnasium is even reinforced with different flooring to be used with wheelchairs, so everything you see here at Camp Grom is adaptable for anybody of any ability,” explained Heinecke.

On Wednesday, Heinecke said there were still some openings at camp, but they’re filling quickly. He added that the site can also be rented out, mostly on weekends, for corporate events and birthday parties.

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