When you walk into the Special Olympics Alaska Jim Balamaci Training Center in Mountain View, high-fives, smiles and great competition are all on display.

The power of inclusivity is magnified this week and next as the 13th annual Special Olympics Alaska Camp Shriver unifies athletes and encourages leadership, teamwork and friendships through the power of sport.

The camp brings together middle and highschool students, with and without intellectual disabilities, for a two-week summer sports camp. 

"They have their Partners Club in high school," explained Special Olympics summer intern Coby Smith. "So this is kind of that transition phase of going from the Partners Club to when after they graduate high school, they still have a place to come and participate, be in sports, and just have a community behind them."

Service High School student 16-year-old Logan Lathrop belongs to the Partners Club there. Lathrop says that he looks forward to using skills acquired at Camp Shriver to go out for the basketball and swim teams at Service.

While athletic competition and having fun are highlights for Lathrop, he says his favorite thing about Camp Shriver is getting to hang out with his friends.

Coaches volunteer their time to run drills and oversee organized games, that include flag football, soccer, basketball, bocce, floor hockey, tennis and golf.

Sarah Gershel is getting ready for her freshman year at Eagle River High School. She says this year's Camp Shriver has been a blast, and she also understands the importance of programs like this.

"Everybody's so inclusive and everybody, you don't even have to ask people, they just randomly include you and I just love how it's so inclusive," Gershel beamed.

Camp Shriver runs through Friday July 19. The camp wraps up with a closing ceremony at 10 a.m. that day at the Special Olympics Alaska Jim Balamaci Training Center. For more information, go to SpecialOlympicsAlaska.org.

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