25 Summer Camps For Individuals With Special Needs

Summer Camps For Children With Special Needs

‘Tis the season to register for summer camps.  If you think that your child’s special needs will prevent him or her from participating in a summer camp, it’s time to think again.  Many camps offer specialized medical care for specific disabilities or one-on-one buddies, while other camps provide tutoring for individuals with learning disabilities in addition to outdoor activities.  Here’s a run-down of the most popular camps for kids and adults with special needs.

1. Friendship Circle

The Friendship Circle in West Bloomfield, Michigan has options for social skills day camp, overnight camp, baseball through the Miracle League and the “Lose the Training Wheels” program to learn to ride a two-wheeled bike.  In the social skills day camp, children are placed in small groups headed by a volunteer.  In the other programs, each child is matched with a one-on-one volunteer.  The Friendship Circle also has 83 locations worldwide, each with its own menu of summer programs.

2. Miracle League

Miracle League is an international organization serving over 200,000 children and adults with disabilities with a single mission: to make baseball accessible to people of all abilities.  Miracle League fields are fully accessible to wheelchairs, and each player is paired with a non-disabled volunteer.  The rules of the game are modified to give every player the opportunity to participate fully.  There are now more than 250 Miracle Leagues in the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico and Australia.

3. Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp

The Amputee Coalition’s Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp in Clarksville, Ohio is a 5-day traditional summer camp experience for children ages 10-17 who have lost arms and/or legs or who were born with limb differences. The camp offers challenging activities that build campers’ confidence regardless of skill level. The Coalition covers all expenses, including travel, for the campers. The average cost to send a child to camp is $1,500. Since its beginning in 2000, the camp has hosted more than 600 campers with limb loss or limb difference.

4. National Ability Center

National Ability Center in Park City, Utah has year-round day and overnight camps for youth with physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities and autism.  Recreational, competitive and team-building programs are available in skiing, adventure learning, aquatics, water sports, archery, cycling, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sled hockey, climbing and equestrian sports.

5. Camp Greentop

Camp Greentop, located in Catoctin National Park, near Thurmont, Maryland, has been welcoming children and adults with disabilities since 1937.  Day and overnight camps offer a structured schedule of canoeing, fishing, swimming, horseback riding and campfire singalongs.

6. Easter Seals Wisconsin

Easter Seals Wisconsin offers overnight and day camps in the Wisconsin Dells.  Siblings and buddies age 7-14 are invited to join each camper.  Some camp sessions provide one-on-one support around the clock, some are small group sessions for campers with mild to moderate impairments and some are planned for individuals with autism and Asperger Syndrome.

7. Easter Seals New Hampshire

Easter Seals New Hampshire works with the Boy Scouts of America to provide an inclusive experience at Camp SnoMo at Hidden Valley Reservation in Gilmanton Iron Works, New Hampshire.  Children and young adults with disabilites age 11-21 participate in traditional camp activities alongside Boy Scouts.  Each camp session is one week long.

8. All Abilities Horse Camp

All Abilities Horse Camp in Longmont, Colorado has day camp sessions that are either one or two weeks.  Children with and without disabilities ages 4-17 can learn English or Western riding, and everyone participates in a horse show on the last day of camp.

9. Talisman Programs

Talisman Programs in Zirconia, North Carolina cater to children and teens with ADHD, learning disabilities, Asperger Syndrome and autism with special attention to nutrition, life skills and daily routines with built-in downtime.  The overnight camps are either campus-based or adventure-based, and all programs are multi-sensory.

10. Grace Bentley

Camp Grace Bentley, located in Burtchville, Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron, hosts campers ages 7-16 with mild to moderate special needs.  Each counselor is assigned to 3 campers, and each session is 9 days long.  Activities include swimming, team sports, dances, bonfires, talent shows, carnivals, various games, arts and crafts, indoor games and movie nights.

11. The Children’s Association for Maximum Potential

The Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (C.A.M.P.) in Center Point, Texas runs a summer camp and year-round respite club.  The six day, five night summer camp sessions are for children and adults with special needs as well as their siblings.  Traditional summer camp activities such as canoeing, swimming, horseback riding and outdoor sports are modified so that people of all abilities may participate.  24 hour medical care is available from the team of professional health care volunteers.  Fees are assessed on a sliding scale based on each family’s income.

12. Camp Horizons

Camp Horizons on Lake Probus in South Windham, Connecticut serves people with developmental disabilities.  In addition to traditional summer camp activities, the camp incorporates a curriculum of life skills, language skills, music and movement, social skills and vocational training.

13. Camp LeeMar

Camp LeeMar in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania adds speech therapy, vocational training, swim instruction, academic instruction and therapeutic arts to the usual menu of camp activities.  Children with mild to moderate learning or developmental disabilities participate in a 7 week residential camp.

14. Camp Ramapo

Ramapo for Children in Rhinebeck, New York has a 1:1 counselor to camper ratio in order to provide an inclusive environment.  Children with special needs ages 6-16 enjoy traditional camp activities on the wooded lakefront campus: swimming, boating, fishing, sports, wilderness exploration, a ropes course, petting zoo, art, music and much more.

15. Meadowood Springs

Camp Meadowood Springs in Pendleton, Oregon has two overnight camps: one specifically for children with autism and Asperger Syndrome, and another with intensive speech therapy conducted during camp activities such as swimming, canoeing, nature walks, zip lines, adventure courses and arts and crafts.

16. Camp Huntington

Camp Huntington in High Falls, New York is an overnight camp for children and young adults (ages 6-21) with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism and developmental disabilities.  The camp combines adaptive therapeutic recreation with academic instruction based on each camper’s IEP goals.

17. Camp Wapiyapi

Camp Wapiyapi near Estes Park, Colorado hosts free summer camps and family retreats for children with cancer and their siblings.  The camp was founded by medical students at the University of Colorado, and each camper is paired with an adult volunteer.

18. Burn Camp

The Arthur Luf Children’s Burn Camp in Union, Connecticut is free for children with burn injuries.  All camp counselors are volunteers, many of whom are active or retired firefighters or medical personnel trained in treating burns.  Camp activities include campfire singalongs, hiking, fishing, archery, boating, and a ropes course.

19. Camp Bon Coeur

Camp Bon Coeur in Eunice, Louisiana serves children ages 7-16 who are cardiac patients.  The camp infirmary is staffed by nurses.  The nursing staff also teach a heart class so that the children can learn more about their health conditions.  Camp activities include swimming, non-contact sports such as volleyball, art class and a talent show.

20. No Limits

Camp No Limits has 7 locations in Maine, Missouri, Maryland, Florida, Idaho, Arizona and California.  These camps are for children with limb loss and their families.  Families learn about prosthetics and adaptive equipment while participating in art, music, sports, recreational activities and therapy.

21. Deaf Camp

Deaf Camps, Inc. combines a traditional camp experience with lessons in American Sign Language.  The kids camp is in Knoxville, Maryland and the young adult camp is in West River, Maryland.

22-24. Paul Newman Camps

The Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne, New York, the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Connecticut and Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, Florida were founded by actor Paul Newman for children with serious or life-threatening illnesses.  Separate camps are offered for siblings.  The camps are free for participants – parents only pay the cost of transportation to and from camp.  Each applicant is screened by a medical team, and the camps have medical clinics staffed by volunteer doctors and nurses.

25. Winaca & HemoVon

Camp Winaca and Camp HemoVon in Morgantown, West Virginia are free for children with cancer and bleeding disorders.  The camps are staffed by West Virginia University medical faculty and volunteers.

Karen Wang

Written on 2013/02/13 by:

Karen Wang

Karen Wang is a Friendship Circle parent. You may have seen her sneaking into the volunteer lounge for ice cream or being pushed into the cheese pit by laughing children. She is a contributing author to the anthology "My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids With Disabilities"
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  • http://twitter.com/ESCrossroads ESCrossroads

    This is a super list, we will tweet this out!! Easter Seals Crossroads in Indianapolis has Camp R.O.C.K.S at Bradford Woods – an overnight camp for kids with autism, Camp Ability – a day camp for kids with special needs, and Lose the Training Wheels – a week long day camp that teaches kids how to ride a bicycle on two wheels! http://www.eastersealscrossroads.org/enrichment-programs

  • Greg

    Camp Barnabas (Purdy,Mo. and surrounding areas), Joni and Friends Family Retreats (throughout the country) are a couple more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessica.minydzakkovacs Jessica Minydzak-Kovacs

    How about some camps for blind children?

    • Sandra

      Camp T.E.A.M.S. is a camp for visually impaired kids and teens that camps at Camp For All in Burton, TX. Check it out at campforall.org

    • alex

      http://www.CampEasterSealsUCP has one in Virginia

    • Channing

      Camp summit. It’s in argyle tx and it’s dead blind week. It’s an amazing program.

  • Sarahh

    Adam’s Camp in Winter Park Colorado offers specially staffed Adventure Camps for children, teens and young adults with developmental disabilities as well as intensive therapy camps for kids 4-13 and their families.

  • Cara Liebowitz

    Southampton Fresh Air Home in Southampton, NY for kids with physical disabilities ages 8 – 18. I was a camper here for seven years and it is the most wonderful place on Earth. http://www.sfah.org

  • http://twitter.com/ThePMTeam ThePMTeam

    Please do not forget Easter Seals Greater Houston Summer Camps! They are fantastic!

  • Kim

    Camp Trek Adaptive Sports Camp, Libertyville, IL – June 17-21, 2013
    Camp Trek is a week long summer day camp in Northern Lake County IL, for children with physical disabilities or a visual impairment. A wide range of indoor and outdoor sports including: basketball, cycling, handcycling, kayaking, hockey, boccia, softball, water skiing, tennis, aerobics, & arts & crafts will be offered. Camp Trek is based at Independence Grove and Oak Grove Middle School in Libertyville, Il.

    Camp Trek is a partnership between Adaptive Adventures and Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association. (www.glasa.org) For more information or to sign up please email [email protected] This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (847) 283-0908.

  • http://twitter.com/TraceyB46142 Tracey Reed Borszem

    Camp Riley is a wonderful overnight camp for those with any type of
    disability who are 8-18. They have different weeks for different levels
    of needs; everything from 1 on 1 attention to independent. The ratio
    of child to camp staff is never greater than 3 to 1. They have
    financial assistance if needed as well.

    Ability, sponsored by Easter Seals, is a terrific day camp for kids
    with disabilities who are 4-11. Here in Indiana, it consists of 3 two
    week sessions during the summer. They have scholarships to help with
    funding as well. http://www.eastersealscrossroads.org/campability

    your child has cerebral palsy, keep United Cerebral Palsy in mind if
    you need assistance covering camp costs. They’ve helped us for the past
    3 summers.

  • Glen

    Camp Blessing Texas in the Houston area will have over 300 special campers this summer!

  • http://www.facebook.com/caitlin.gray.758 Caitlin Gray

    Make Promises Happen in Guthrie, OK is the best camp!!! We work with people with disabilities from 6 yrs old until they leave us and join heaven. We have weekend camps during the school year and weeklongs during the summer. We have created an MPH family and would love for our family to continue to grow. Here is the link….

  • http://twitter.com/TheHappyAspie Bek

    Another one: Camp Cheerful in Ohio. They have a few different programs catering to: “children and adults with physical, developmental, medical and sensory disabilities” http://www.achievementcenters.org/camp-cheerful.html I was also surprised to find that our county parks and rec has a special needs day camp program. We haven’t tried it, but I figured I’d mention it as others may have similar camps in their counties.

  • Michael Roush

    Shout out to my hometown camp, KAMP Dovetail, providing a day camp and weeklong camp experience for students with disabilities at Rocky Fork State Park near Hillsboro, Ohio, for the past 30 years. Every camper is paired with a volunteer for the week! kampdovetail.org

  • Jennifer

    Another great one is Camp Winnebago near Caledonia, MN. There is small group and 1:1 staffing, lot’s of activities including swimming, art, dances, campouts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.henry1 Matt Henry

    Skyline Camp and Retreat Center in Almont, Michigan, http://www.campskyline.org hosts a special needs family camp, as well as sessions for ages 13-19, 20-40, and 40+. ACA accredited and nearly 50 years going strong!

  • Bethany D

    All Star Training Camp, in Tallmadge, Ohio, provides a 6-week program designed for all special needs children. Every week is a different sport which is designed to be all-inclusive for all children. My sons have gone the last 3 years and have really enjoyed it —

    • dawnmomofreed

      may I ask what DX your son has? and above lists mine would he fit there?

  • Samantha

    Dream Oaks Camp (Foundation for Dreams) in Bradenton, FL is a really great overnight camp (one week sessions) Sessions are based on type of ability.

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  • wallylarkin

    Is anyone aware of an inclusive summer camp in or around the Philadelphia area?

    • JanaeLove

      Camp lee mar is great. I worked there last summer

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  • Amy

    Don’t forget Easter Seals Camp Challenge in Central FL (www.fl.easterseals.com/campchallenge). ACA accredited and just celebrated 50 years of service. Ages 6-106!

  • dawnmomofreed

    I need a camp for kids with add, SPD and EI, or at least are aware of SPD and help more with behavior through fun.. and must have a sliding scale that really slides single parent here!! my kid needs a break, should be a camp name!!

  • allchase99

    I am 14 and trying to find a camp that will let me be a junior counceler or a full one and i have been looking for over a month now and have found absolutely nothing! i need it in ohio.

  • Lesa

    I have a 22 year old son with quad. cerebral palsy. I’m trying to find a camp for him in NEBRASKA. He also has an assortment of other medical issues. PLEASE HELP. He needs to SMILE and enjoy life out there again. Thank you

    • Mischelle

      Its not in NE but close by, there is a camp in Rapid City SD called camp friendship… see campfriendship.org for more info

    • Amanda S.

      Not sure what distance you’re comfortable with, but check out True Friends in Minnesota. There are week long summer programs June through August, 2 winter camps, as well as year round respite weekends. http://www.truefriends.org

  • Susan

    There are few if no camps listed for adults over the age of 21 with special needs? Children grow up to become adults, please consider that population as well. Camp Thorpe and Camp SilverTowers in Vermont offer camping for adults with Camp SilverTowers catering to seperate sessions of ages and campers with more severe physical disabilities.

    • Evan Abides

      Upward Bound Camp outside of Stayton, OR has camp experiences for people with special needs ages 12 through geriatric and serves people with a wide range of needs. http://www.upwardboundcamp.org

    • True Friends

      True Friends in Minnesota provides camps, respite, travel, and a therapy horse program for individuals with disabilities of all ages! http://www.truefriends.org

  • Emily

    Camp Echoing Hills is located in Warsaw Ohio, about an hour east of Columbus. They serve ALL ages and all different levels of ability. They even care for those to need complete and total physical care and they take all different levels of behaviors as well. The camp was started in 1967 by a man with Cerebral Palsy himself, so he understands the different struggles, and it’s a Christian Special Needs camp, but they accept anyone no matter their religious preference. Their number is 740.327.2311 ext. 261

  • Fred The Moose

    http://www.CampEasterSealsUCP.com is in Virginia and happily serves children and adults with disabilities throughout the southeast. Campers have intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Weekend to month-long opportunities are available. Scholarships are also available. Other Easter Seals camp are located throughout the country.

  • Priscilla

    Wisconsin Badger Camp is located in Prairie du Chien, WI. It is a 10 week summer camp that hosts all ages and severities of disabilities. They give out scholarships to all campers who cannot afford the cost on their own. http://www.badgercamp.org/index.php Please check it out! I have worked there for 2 summers now and it has completely changed my life. Hope to see some new faces from this!

  • Upward Bound Camp

    Upward Bound Camp has been providing recreational and educational camp experiences for people with special needs in Oregon since 1978!
    Check us out at… Upward Bound Camp

  • Pauline

    any camps in Ohio or Indiana?

  • Noah

    Another special needs camp to mention is Camp Spearhead located in South Carolina. I have worked with them the past few years and they are wounderful. They work with campers of all special needs 8 to 80+ years old.

  • ejarvie

    Tourette Syndrome Camp in Ingleside, Illinois, now in its 21 year! http://www.tourettecamp.com/

  • Alex

    http://www.CampEasterSealsUCP.com has camps for children and adults with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. It’s located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

  • The 7th Generation School

    The 7th Generation School in Asheville, NC is sponsoring 3 camps this summer that are wonderful for youth who struggle emotionally and/or behaviorally as we focus on mindfulness, leadership, communication, self-discovery, positive coping skills, and much more. Check it out! http://www.7thgenerationschool.com

  • Jeff David

    So many more camps out there for adults and kids with disabilities than these twenty-five. The American Camp Association certifies camps across the country, and they would be a great place to find camps near you that serves folks with disabilities. Check out find.acacamps.org.

    The search is great and lets you choose specific population groups, ages, etc.

    • Evan Abides

      Great resource Jeff!

  • maxine hayes

    my 15 year old son fine motor skills are not fully developed so he has problem with strength in his handswhich has affected his ability to do things such as put on or tie his shoes

  • maxine hayes

    my 15 year old son has a learning disability and his fine motor skills are not fully developed, which affects the strength in his hands and his tongue to understand his speech. I am looking for camps in the East Tennessee area which is located close to the border of North Carolina and Virginia that can provide speech and occupational therapy so that he will be able to do the little things such as putting on or tying his shoes, or zipping his pants. Any help is much appreciated. Thank you in advance for your help

  • Vikki

    I see nothing listed for California. I am always looking for overnighter camps for behavior challenges and other special needs to share with parents I work with. If anyone has info, please share. Also around the Reno, NV area, which is 1.5 hours away from our rural community. TY

    • Denise Barnes

      Hi Vikki, My daughter has significant cognitive and physical delays. She also has a Seizure disorder. We live in Los Angeles and she has been to Camp Paivika in Crestline a couple of times. They are Affiliated with Ability First which has many locations throughout SoCal. Ability First is a day and after school program and they also have independent living facilities and work programs. My daughter loved the camp and loves her after school/summer program. They’ve been around a long time. I hope this helps.

  • Bailey

    True Friends Can in Minnesota is a great camp that serves many individuals (adults and children) with intellectual disabilities! I was a camp counselor there and it was the two best summers of my life!

    • True Friends

      Thanks for the compliment, Bailey!

  • Challenge Aspen


    Aspen/Snowmass, CO
    “Making Possibilities for People with Disabilities”

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  • Bhavina Hirapara

    “Dream day on Cap Code” is a Family Camp for the child with disabilities and their siblings. It is in Cap Code, MA. Visit the website http://www.dreamdayoncapecod.org/

  • Emily

    Camp Harkness’ Arc program runs 6 wks for adults with disabilities and 2 wks for kids. Overnight or day camp, rec activities, swimming, arts and crafts as well as evening activities! Located in New London CT.

  • Tina Moreno

    Camp ALEC will be offered for children with physical disabilities who use AAC to communicate July 27-Aug 2 at Variety Club Camp and Developmental Center in Philadelphia. This is a literacy camp spearheaded by Drs. Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver. Check it out at http://www.campalec.wordpress.com

  • Barb Wollak

    Below is a description of the Literacy Session at Camp Courage and a link to the application. Scholarships are available.

    Applications are now available for campers, ages 12-21, for the Literacy Camp at Camp Courage.
    It will be held August 17-22 in Maple Lake, Minnesota, which is about 50
    miles from Minneapolis. This unique session is for campers who are
    struggling readers. Campers’
    reading skills range from beginning readers to reading several years
    behind grade level. In addition to enjoying the many fun recreational
    activities offered, campers work daily with educational specialists on
    literacy-related activities. The session is under the direction of
    national literacy experts Drs. David Koppenhaver and Karen Erickson.
    Informal descriptive reports of literacy
    assessments and interventions
    are provided to families and campers to take back to their home schools.
    Campers attending this session should be independent in their personal
    care needs and have a means of communication, which may include an AAC
    (augmentative communication) system. Please contact me off the list
    serve if you have specific questions. This is an amazing opportunity for
    anyone involved.

    Barb Wollak, M.S., CCC-SLP
    Coordinator, Literacy Session at Camp Courage

    [email protected]


  • True Friends

    True Friends (formerly Friendship Ventures & Camp Courage) in Minnesota has five camp locations around MN for children and adults with disabilities (developmental, physical, learning, etc). We provide summer and winter weeklong camps, travel opportunities, weekend respite year-round, and therapy horses for all individuals.

    Mission: Provide life-changing experiences that enhance independence and self-esteem for children and adults with disabilities.

    We’re always looking for campers (ages 5-95), staff (18+) and volunteers (14+) from all over the world!

    For more information about our services, visit http://www.truefriends.org or call 800.450.8376

  • John

    How about a Camp for some one that’s 48 with a disability .like a little slow and uses a walker.thanks john

  • russ

    St Francis Camp on the Lake is a great one week summer camp for children and adults with developmental disabilities !

  • Stuart

    Is anyone aware of any camps that hire international staff for a period longer than a summer. I spent 2 summers in VA and loved every second! The level of support and care greatly exceeds what is available in other countries (I myself am from the UK). I have recently gained my BSc in psychology with applied studies in autism and child development, and also have 15 years experience in disability support. My ambition is to return to America and carry on the job I started in VA. If any has any information, I would greatly appreciate it. Feel free to email me at [email protected]


  • Ms Eb

    Everything is so expensive..

  • Jen A.

    Camp Courageous in Iowa services youth and adults of all ages with disabilities of all kinds! It is year-round and offers recreation as well as respite.