Camp Confidante

by Special Olympics Asia Pacific
2016, 2018, 2019

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  • Camp Confidante was a 3-day camp in Singapore organised by youth leaders with funding from Special Olympics Asia Pacific.
  • Campers included students with and without intellectual disabilities (ID) from special education schools like Metta School, Grace Orchard School and mainstream secondary schools, tertiary institutions and universities. They learnt from each other through various camp activities.
  • Three editions of the camp were run from 2016 to 2019.



  • Most of the existing projects reaching out to persons with ID in Singapore largely saw stakeholders maintaining a volunteer-beneficiary relationship.
  • Camp Confidante was conceptualized to position students with and without disabilities at an equal level as peers, letting them build meaningful friendships and learn from each other, instead of enforcing a hierarchy of power.
  • The camp also sought to serve as a platform for raising awareness about intellectual disability and to advocate for social inclusion and empathy.
  • Processes involved in organizing the camp included: recruiting members of the organizing committee members and volunteers, consulting special education teachers in planning for the camp, orientating volunteers and organizing pre-camp engagement sessions.


  • 2016: 55 participants from Metta School and mainstream schools, 30 youths from tertiary level
  • 2018: 82 participants from Grace Orchard School and 9 mainstream schools, 50+ tertiary students and working adults involved as facilitators, station masters and organizing committee members
  • 2019: 44 participants from Grace Orchard School and 5 mainstream schools, 70+ tertiary students and working adults involved as organising committee members, facilitators and event helpers
  • Outreach to 100 to 200 social media users each year
  • Friendships forged between participants with and without ID led to an increase in inclusive attitudes, better understanding and empathy for people with ID.

“I bonded with my group mates and facilitators, and didn’t want to part.” – 2019 participant

“They are very much like us, and share similar interests/hobbies such as watching Youtube, etc. I noticed buddies from Metta School wish to be respected and treated normally like one of us. Many dislike barriers and will initiate to get to know us better. Although the shy ones take time to warm up, they will open up once they are comfortable with us. It takes patience for them to feel comfortable with us, but once they do, it is definitely rewarding. Many of the students also hope to prove themselves to us – whether in games or through interactions. Many do not like to be underestimated or be seen as different.”  – 2016 committee member

  • Increased confidence of participating students from increased understanding of skills and identity.
  • Development of planning, organizational and leadership skills among facilitators of camp, especially organising committee members. They serve as role models for other youths, showcasing how youth can champion advocacy by leading their own large-scale camp.

“This has unexpectedly became the most rewarding camp for me ever and I believe my campers had the time of their lives too.” – 2019 facilitator

What we learnt:

  • Managing publicity, logistics, budgeting, event planning, and other aspects of a large-scale camp will take a lot of effort… but is possible with the dedication and organizational skills of youth volunteers!
  • Establishing partnerships and maintaining good relationships with stakeholders, such as sponsors and schools of participants, are key to preparing for the camp smoothly and sustaining it as a recurring event.
  • Given the camp’s mission of promoting inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, the needs of participants with intellectual disabilities should be sincerely considered and accounted for in each component of the camp.

Volunteers leading the camp, including committee members and facilitators, should be aligned on their objectives for the camp and be suitably prepared to guide individuals with ID.