Standing between a large xylophone and a set of grand chimes, Sarah Morgan, Camp High Hopes’ advancement director, talks about the Sioux City camp’s Sensory Garden on Tuesday. The Sensory Garden was built so that campers would have a place to relax and play in between activities.

SIOUX CITY — Last summer, Sarah Morgan heard a familiar tune in Camp High Hopes’ Sensory Garden.

One of the campers, who has autism, was playing “Joy to the World” on a giant set of chimes.

“I go over to him and I was like, ‘Is that ‘Joy to the World’?’ He goes, ‘Yes. Yes. Yes. I have perfect pitch, so I can play this,'” Morgan, the camp’s advancement director, recalled.

This year, the Sioux City camp put the finishing touches on the Sensory Garden, a centrally located outdoor space equipped with large weather-resistant musical instruments, a light and sound game, talk tubes, a water table, painting panels and a gazebo with a wheelchair swing. The 90-acre camp serves children, teens and adults with disabilities, special needs and chronic illnesses.

“Kids were playing on this last summer when we had camp, but we really didn’t put all the finishing touches on it until this year,” Morgan said. 

Morgan said the camp needed a free play space where campers can relax. She said all of the camp’s activities have a specific start time, end time and purpose. With archery, for example, instructors teach the proper technique with the hope that campers can hit a bull’s-eye.

“We didn’t have a place for our campers for free play, for them to kind of explore, be creative, have a place to hang out outside and just relax and be,” she said.

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