User login
Add to calendar

W3C CSS   W3C html
Sample header image
Font size: Increase or decrease font size Decrease font size Increase font size

Camps for Special Needs Kids

Families with children who have special needs may want to consider sending their child to camp this summer.

Children can benefit from the fun and interaction with other kids, increase their confidence and independence, and find positive role models from adults and counselors. Parents can get a much-needed break.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all camps to make reasonable accommodations so that children with special needs can attend. This means that mainstream camps may also be on your list of possibilities.

Not only has the list of possible camps increased, but the types of camps have also increased. Camps may be non-profit, for-profit, religious camps, day camps, weekend camps, camps run by national organizations, and private camps.

Families will want to find a camp that fits their philosophy, cost, and goals. Many camps offer scholarships or rates on a sliding scale depending on the family's income.

There are a number of camps around Nebraska that offer Specialty Camps and cater to children with special needs. Below are several of those camps.


Camps in Nebraska

Easter Seals Nebraska has Camp Easter Seals outside of Nebraska City. From campfire sing-a-longs and late night ghost stories, to nature walks, swimming, and arts and crafts, Easter Seals Nebraska camps provide the same excitement and activity available at other summer camp programs. The difference? Easter Seals Nebraska campers experience the joys and challenges of camp in a fully-accessible setting. Campers gain independent and social interaction skills while participating in a variety of fun, adapted activities. For more information on 2005 sessions, see the Easter Seals Nebraska web site.

Camp YouCan is a new summer day camp in Nebraska for children ages 7-16 with epilepsy. Camp YouCan is sponsored by Lifestyle Innovations for Epilepsy, Inc. and will be on September 8, 2012 at YMCA Camp Kitaki located between Lincoln and Omaha. There will be daytime activities such as fishing, boating, arts and crafts, games, a ropes course, and archery. Lunch will be provided and the evening will conclude with a family dinner and campfire. We will have a staff of volunteer counselors and will have volunteer nurses on site to deliver medications and to treat injuries. For more information email or call (402) 770-3936.

Camp Kindle is a cost free (including traveling costs) summer camp for children and youth aged 7 to 17 who are infected with or impacted by HIV/AIDS. A week at Camp Kindle is composed of education, health and life skills workshops. Equally important are their traditional camp activities, such as water and field sports, arts and crafts, and nature appreciation. Each evening at camp, children participate in all-camp evening programs including campfires, a carnival, camp olympics, lip-sync/dance, and other specialty entertainment. For more information, visit their web site at

Camp Quality Heartland is a summer camping experience and year-round support program for children with cancer. Four pediatric oncology nurses with a total of 53 years experience are on the camps staff and a local physician is available for emergencies. For more information, go to the Heartland Camp Quality site or call (712) 323-5107.

Camp Jenney is a summer residential camp for Nebraska children who have cystic fibrosis. An infirmary is staffed 24 hours a day with physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists. Camp Jenney is a joint project of the American Lung Association of Nebraska and Concerned Nebraskans for Cystic Fibrosis. Camp Jenney will be at Camp Kitaki near South Bend.

Camp Spirit is for kids ages 8-17 who have arthritis or related diseases. Contact the Arthritis Foundation, Nebraska Chapter at (402) 330-6130 in Omaha or outside Omaha, call 1-800-642-5292.

Camp Brave Heart of Nebraska is for kids ages 9-14 who have cardiology health conditions. Contact Jennifer Strawn at (402) 955-4350. The 2005 camp session will be held at Camp Kataki from June 5-11.

Camp Anderson is for children ages 11-18 who are deaf or hard of hearing. The camp will be held at Camp Kitaki in South Bend, Nebraska. For more information, visit the Southeast Nebraska Regional Program, the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, or contact Jill Bird, (402) 436-1897.

Camp Hot Shots Central is being organized by the American Diabetes Association Great Plains Region, Omaha. This camp will be June 18, 19, 2013 and is for children ages 6 to 12 years who have diabetes. For more information, contact Deann Carpenter at (402) 461-5318.

Camp Floyd Rogers is for children with Diabetes who are between the ages of 8 and 18. This year's camp is June 23-29, 2013, at Camp Luther, a Lutheran camp and conference center nestled in the rolling, prairie farmland between Schuyler and Columbus, Nebraska. For more information, see a description of the camping experience at the Children with Diabetes web site.

Polar Opposites (Ages 6-8) – Explore the animals of the Arctic and Antarctic! Your adventure will begin in the Arctic Circle where we will encounter the elusive polar bear. Then, travel to Antarctica on the opposite side of the world to study penguins! June 14 -16 (Monday thru Wednesday)9 a.m. – Noon, Omaha’s Zoo is offering a 3 day camp for children ages 6-8 who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. This day camp will be taught by certified teachers who specialize in working with deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Class space is limited. Cost $95 per child. To register, please contact the Education Department at Omaha’s Zoo at (402)738-2092 or visit

His Kids Camp (Ages 13-Adult) is the special needs program at Camp Luther. This Christ centered program gives safe opportunities to explore exciting new activities while increasing self-esteem, boosting self-confidence, and encouraging independence.  A unique feature of His Kids Camp is that every camper will have one on one time with  a special friend called their “Buddy” (staff and volunteers paired up with the campers the entire time they are at camp - day & night) to help them make the most of their camping experience. Call (402) 981-5732 for more information, or visit Camp Luther's website at under "Special Needs Program"

H.U.G.S. Camp (Ages 5 –13) is a one day camp, providing activities for youth who have experienced the death of a family member or friend. The camp is for children, ages 5 –13, and their families. It is recommended at least one adult attend per family. Adults will gain ideas and learn skills to help themselves and their children through the grieving process. Groups are led by mental health practitioners and trained grief facilitators skilled in working with individuals who are grieving. Cost is $15 per family and includes Zoo admission, train ride, lunch, and program supplies. Scholarships are available. For more information, visit or call Nancy Gabelman, AseraCare Hospice, 402.488.1363.

Other Camps in Colorado and the Midwest

The Lung Association has been leading the fight against asthma for many years, through research, education and advocacy. Learning more about the disease is the first step in helping children and adults with asthma breathe easier. The American Lung Association, Plains-Gulf Region has a variety of programs designed to help you learn more at

Camp Odayin in Minnesota provides residential, day and family camp programs for children (ages 6-17) with heart disease. Our camp offers the opportunity to strengthen self-confidence, gain independence and meet other young people with similar health, emotional and social experiences. Our facility is fully staffed with pediatric cardiologists and nurses. Free transportation is provided to our residential program from the Twin Cities. The only charge for any of our programs is a $25 registration fee. Camp Odayin is a 501c3, funded through fundraisers, corporate and private donations. See a description of the camping experience at the Camp Odayin site.

Camp Nuhop is a camp for children for children age 6-18 with Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorders and Behavior Disorders. located in southern Ashland County, Ohio—is a residential summer camp for all children with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders and behavior disorders. What started out as a one-week program years ago with eight counselors serving 27 children has blossomed into a camp that serves 560 children during six weeks, with a waiting list of 50. The camp has grown to 45 staff members and five directors. Each session is devoted to an interest-based theme, such as their Sport Skills Camp, Artistic Camp, Mountain Bike Camp and Science Camp. For more information, visit the Camp Nuhop web site or call (419) 289-2227.

Courage Camps offer safe, accessible, natural environments where children and adults with physical disabilities, sensory and language impairments, and other disabilities or illnesses discover abilities they never knew they had or they thought they had lost. Speech/language services are available at Camp Courage for campers on the active caseload of a school Speech/Language Pathologist. The Courage Camps have three locations in Minnesota, each with a number of sessions devoted targeted to children with specific disabilities. For more information, visit the Courage Camps web site or call (763) 520-0504.

One Step At A Time Summer Camp is for children and adolescents, ages 7 through 19 with cancer and leukemia. It is divided into seven different programs, each of which conducts activities for a specific age group. These programs include Standard Camp, Stepping Up, Excursion, Campcraft, Water Sports, ACE, and EXCEL. There is also a winter camp every year that is held for five days after the holidays. It is based at Aurora University's George Williams Educational Center in William's Bay, Wisconsin. For more information, visit the One Step at a Time web site or call (312) 924-4220.

Camp Courageous of Iowa is a year-round respite and recreational facility for individuals with disabilities of all ages. There are a number of activities available to campers, ranging from Caving, Arts and Crafts, Outdoor Living Skills and caring for farm animals. For information about week long summer camps and other programs, visit the Camp Courageous web site or call (319)465-5916.

The Fowler Center in Michigan has been providing year-round outdoor recreational and educational experiences for people with special needs, including: mental and physical challenges, autism, traumatic brain injuries, as well as sensory and communication challenges. Activities offered at the Fowler Center include outdoor education, horseback riding, creative arts, water sports, and barn and garden activities. To learn more about the centers camping and respite programs, visit the Fowler Center web site or call (989) 673-2050.

Lions Bear Lake Camp in Michigan offers summer camp programs for children who are visually-impaired, hearing impaired or have juvenile arthritis and related diseases. Activities include horseback ridding, swimming, boating, hiking, crafts, nature, music, archery, games and drama. Older campers will participate in leadership development activities and a high ropes course. For more information, visit the Lions Bear Lake Camp web site or call (810) 245-0726.

Wonderland Camp is dedicated to serving mentally and physically challenged individuals of all ages. Campers can participate in many activities at camp including crafts, music, nature studies, hiking, swimming, boating, dances, campfires, talent shows, archery, fishing, and more. The camp is located at Rocky Mount, Missouri, near the Lake of the Ozarks. To learn more about the camp programs,visit the Wonderland Camp web site or call (573) 392-1000.

Shady Oaks Camp provides outdoor fun and recreation for children and adults with cerebral palsy and similar disabilities. The camp is located in Homer Glen, Illinois, (35 miles southwest of downtown Chicago) and was built specifically around the special needs of these campers. Programs at the camp include planned recreation, games, arts and crafts, and swimming. All are tailored to the capabilities and limitations of each individual camper. There are also field trips to places in or near Chicago, like the Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos, major league baseball games, museums and theaters. For more information call 708-301-0816 or visit the Shady Oaks Camp web site.

Special Days Camp is open to any child who currently has cancer or leukemia, or has had it in the past. Special Days Camp gives these youngsters a chance to experience the fun of traditional summer camp with the medical care and treatment they require from oncology physicians and nurses. The camp is located in Jackson, Michigan. For more information about their winter and summer camp, visit the Special Days Camp web site.

Camp Hickory Hill serves children and teens age 8 to 17 who have insulin-dependent diabetes. The camp educates these children to manage and control their own diabetes. Fun activities include archery, arts and crafts, astronomy, boating, campfires and overnight camp outs, exploring a cave, fishing, hiking and nature study, zip line, mudpit competition, ping pong, rappelling, riflery, skits, stories, songs, sports and more. The camp is located in Columbia, Missouri. For more information, visit Camp Hickory Hill's web page or call (573) 445-9146.

Back to top