“Buddy Camp” was started in the Summer of 1981 by Galax, VA Director of Special Education, Dr. “Tommy” Barber under the name of a “Speaking and Listening Camp” for a group of 15 speech and language impaired preschool children who were also culturally and environmentally deprived. After running successfully again in the Galax City Schools in 1982, “Buddy Camp” was initiated in the Summer of 1984 after Salem’s first year of operations. From the Summer of 1984 through the Summer of 2011 (27 years), “Buddy Camp” was offered to up to 25 preschool, developmentally delayed, children and their buddies in an intensely stimulating summer camp experience.
Then, for the Summer of 2012, the Salem City Schools was not able to have Buddy Camp due to the lack of public school funds. On July 25, 2012 – one month after Buddy Camp should have been held, Jill Bailey Chenet, tragically drowned with her unborn girl off the coast of North Carolina. After her funeral, the seeds were sown to re-start Buddy Camp for 2013 using her name. Jills had been a wonderful “Buddy” from 1994-1998 and a masterful teacher of Cochlear Implant children at the famous River School in Washingon D.C. for five years until her death. Dr. Barber and others started the “Jill’s Buddy Camp Education Foundation” on February 12, 2013 under the Salem Education Foundation (Salem, VA). It had three Missions: