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Being a Camper
Special Camp for Special Kids offers an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime summer day camp experience to youth with disabilities between the ages of 6 and 21. The one-to-one camper-to-counselor ratio provides a unique educational and recreational setting. Campers venture with their counselors through a variety of activities which seek to enhance the camper's learning abilities, communication style, emotional well-being, social development, and sensory characteristics. Since its founding in 1992, Special Camp has had two primary objectives:
  1. to increase the self-esteem of children and teens with disabilities by providing positive and caring relationships with peer counselors and the opportunity to participate in recreational and educational activities; and,
  2. to eliminate the stigma associated with the disabled community by providing an educational and service opportunity for both the campers and the counselors.

The pace of Special Camp can be quite tiring. One day might include bus travel of up to two hours and a five hour period at an amusement park. The staff is more than willing to explain more about the camp and its pace; if you are concerned that your child might have difficulties with the pace of the camp, please do not hesitate to speak to our staff. However, ALL activities are designed for the entire camp regardless of a child's disability.

The camp has a fully qualified and trained registered nursing staff, head by Patty Canright, R.N.   The nursing staff is always with the camp, whether we are on-site at St. Margaret's or out in the community, and they attend to the all of the nursing needs of the camp. The safety and well-being of our participants and staff is our primary concern.

Each camp session hosts 50-55 campers who have wide range of disabilities. About 15-20% of our campers use wheelchairs . A majority of the campers have Down Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, or are developmentally delayed, but all are welcome.

Applying to be a Camper

Special Camp utilizes the camper application to learn vital information about the applicant and their disabilities. A copy of the application is given to the camper's counselor about a month in advance of their session. The counselor then uses the information to determine the best means to assure that the camper gets the most out of their Special Camp experience.  If you are new to Special Camp, you will be contacted by our Camper Coordinator to arrange a house visit. 

Space is limited. Thus, families are strongly encouraged to complete an application immediately and return it to Special Camp. The program offers a priority deadline each year. The priority deadline allows our staff to begin camp preparations and aids our enrollment process. Applicants can still apply after the priority deadline on a first-come, first-served basis. If there is not a session available at the time an applicant submits an application, they will be notified and placed on the waiting list. Often families' summer plans change, which allows applicants on the waiting list to be enrolled. Special Camp makes every effort to place campers in their preferred session as indicated on the application.  Applications for campers are available here.

Tuition and Scholarships
The camper tuition fee is $375 per session. The fees help to underwrite the cost of meals, transportation, and activities of the camp.

Need-based camper tuition scholarships are available. Special Camp receives generous support from corporations, foundations, and individuals that help to underwrite camp costs and provide tuition assistance. Approximately 25 percent of our applicants each year request tuition assistance. It is a goal of Special Camp to accommodate our families' financial needs, and thankfully, in our 25-year history we have been able to provide financial support to those families requesting such need. If you have any questions or concerns regarding tuition assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Lindsay Eres, Executive Director.

Camper Coordinator
The Camper Coordinator works very closely with each camper and their family throughout the application process and camp sessions. Special Camp is very aware that the summer camp experience  might be a new and different setting for a camper and their family. Our staff strives  to ease the stress and concerns that commonly arise from a new setting. The Camper Coordinator's role is to serve as an advocate, liaison, and friend to the campers and their families. If you have any questions about Being a Camper at Special Camp for Special Kids, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Conditions and Terms
Special Camp for Special Kids is open to persons of all races, religions, ethnic, and economic backgrounds with the limitations to providing such opportunities being the following:

  1. The camp is capable of ensuring an equally safe atmosphere for all participants.
  2. Those the camp finds to be "medically fragile" may not be accommodated.
  3. The camp's financial and physical capacity allows for campers and counselors to be admitted to the program.

Applicants to the program must demonstrate the following:

  • An ability to participate in camp activities, 
  • An ability to interact with others in the camp. Careful emphasis is concentrated on the camper's ability to work and interact with their counselor, 
  • An ability to attend camp with minimal specialized care which shall not interfere with camp operations, 
  • The camper will be six years of age by the commencement of the camp sessions and displays a mental capability of a three year old.

All applications are reviewed by the Executive Director, Operations Director, and Nursing Director of Special Camp for Special Kids prior to acceptance. The Executive Director, Operations Director, and Nursing Director reserve the right to decline an applicant admittance to the program for the above stated terms and conditions.

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