Summer Camps 2023: Sleepaway Camps & Family Weekends
385 Fairview Road Ojai, CA 93023 (310) 476-8571 Contact: Gaby Natelson
For more information about any of the Tikvah programs, contact Elana Naftalin Kelman, Tikvah Director.
Type of camp: Family camp and summer sleepaway camp
Camp Ramah, located in the Ojai Valley on 450 acres of land near Los Padres National Forest, allows campers to enjoy the beaches and mountains of Southern California in a kosher and Jewish atmosphere. Camp activities include swimming, sports, musicals, art, cooking, and more. Ramah offers a family camp for those who have children with disabilities and their siblings as well as summer camps for young adults with disabilities. The Tikvah programs are created to support campers and staff members of all abilities. The staff provides support systems, modified schedules, and programs to make sure everyone's needs are met.
Camps and dates:
Amitzim and Ezra: Summer programs for campers with disabilities
Amitzim: June 15–July 10 and July 13–August 7 This program is for campers aged ten to seventeen. All campers have an opportunity to participate in camp activities alongside their peers; the camp offers support and modifications to programs when appropriate. The staff includes specially trained counselors with a higher camper-counselor ratio, including buddies with high school-age campers.
Ezra: June 15–July 10 and July 13–August 7 This is a vocational training program for young adults ages eighteen to twenty-six, so while it's not a match for your family today, it may be something to take into consideration for future opportunities offered by this camp. The Ezra participants live at camp alongside hundreds of staff members and campers. They have an opportunity to fill their time with job site experience, life skills classes, and recreational activities.
Age range: Varies based on program selection
Registration: Participants are able to enroll for Summer Camp at this time; for family camp, you may reach out to Camp Ramah directly for more information.
Office: 9272 Madison Ave. Orangevale, CA 95662
Campsite: Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake Gallatin Rd. Susanville, CA 96130 (916) 988-6835 email@example.com
Type of camp: Sleepaway camp in Northern California
Camp ReCreation, under the patronage of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, has a mission to increase the awareness and acceptance of those with developmental disabilities throughout the community. Accredited by the American Camp Association, they have been serving people with developmental disabilities since 1983. Each year, Camp ReCreation “provides a residential summer camp program as well as engaging year-round activities for its participants to inspire fun, friendship, social interaction, and spiritual growth.” During summer, they host three week-long camp sessions at Camp Ronald McDonald in Eagle Lake, CA. They charge a fee to campers, but that fee only covers a portion of the direct cost, with Camp ReCreation absorbing the difference for every camper. Camp activities include arts and crafts, drama, singing and dancing, sports and games, hikes, swimming, canoeing, Bible story activities, and daily Mass.
Camp and dates: Camp ReCreation offers three summer sessions. Campers are dropped off at Camp Ronald McDonald in Eagle Lake, CA. Stay tuned for specific dates once Camp ReCreation announces those.
Age range: Camp ReCreation accepts campers with disabilities of all ages.
Cost: The fee is $595 per camper, with an optional $70 charge for a return bus ride. They will never turn a camper away because they are unable to afford the cost and will cover part or all of the cost if needed.
Registration: Registration begins by applying on the registration page of their website. Registration for 2023 has not opened yet.
Camp Tuolumne Trails
22988 Ferretti Road Groveland, CA 95321 (209) 962-7534
Program Director: Jacqui Montero
Type of camp: Family camp and summer sleepaway camp
Camp Tuolumne Trails in Groveland, CA, is dedicated to providing an enriching and fun camp experience in a facility especially designed and built for children, teens, and adults with disabilities. Camp Tuolumne Trails offers a traditional camp experience, and all of their activities are fully accessible. The staff members are trained to ensure that activities are accessible at multiple ability levels and age ranges. In addition to their ADA-accessible pool, campers can enjoy arts and crafts, archery, gold-panning, naturalist walks, scavenger hunts, campfires, sing-alongs, and much more. The camp facilities are also fully ADA-accessible.
Camps and dates:
Sleepaway Camps: Week-long sessions from June through August
- When the director receives a registration for a new camper, they complete an intake interview with the camper and caregivers to learn more about the camper's needs and the family's goals to ensure that the camper will be successful during their time at Tuolumne Trails. While the staff is comfortable providing most care needs, they do require that campers who attend their summer programs need minimal night-time care (no frequent turning, must sleep through the night), show no elopement behaviors (the campus is fairly rural and bordered with national forest land), and show no aggressive behaviors toward themselves or others. Overall, the staff members work with each camper and their family to provide the best care possible.
- Counselors: The sleepaway camp is staffed by counselors who are provided with training to support campers of significant needs. About 43% of their campers have a diagnosed physical disability, so their staff members are well-trained in personal care including lifting, transferring, toileting, showering, feeding, and other care needs.
- Nursing: They maintain a registered nurse onsite twenty-four hours a day when camp is in session. Their RN is responsible for medication distribution, documentation, and any first aid that may be required.
- They can provide 1:1 aides at an additional cost during camp, but they also allow for families to bring an aide if they choose to do so. Aides attend free of charge. During the youth session, siblings and friends of all abilities can attend camp. Parents and caregivers are also welcome to stay onsite if needed. However, the staff would recommend their Family Camp for parents who would like to be involved with activity time.
Family Camp: August 5-7 or August 11-13, 2023
- The Family Camp program is similar to their regular summer camp with daily scheduled activities that are family-friendly and accessible. This is a great option for families with campers who are too young for the individual camper programs, who have never attended a camp program before, or who have care needs that their caregivers are more comfortable handling themselves, such as nighttime care. In addition, it is an opportunity for families to spend some much-needed time together in a safe and accessible camp setting that the whole family can enjoy.
- Parents are welcome to join all activities, and the staff is available to provide daytime respite.
- Families each sleep in separate cabins, or they can request to share a cabin with another family if they are attending together. This is a great opportunity for families to vacation together and build community with other families raising children with disabilities. Space is limited.
Age range: All ages
- The sessions vary by length (four to six days) and cost $625-$940.
- The Family Camp is offered either August 5-7 or August 11-13 and costs $804 for up to four guests, with additional campers at $40 per person.
- Regional Center vendor: They are vendored through Valley Mountain Regional Center and Regional Center of the East Bay. However, they have been able to approve tuition from campers registered with other Regional Centers on a case-by-case basis. Caregivers can ask their case managers to email the director directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process.
- Scholarships: They offer full and partial scholarships. Their scholarship application opens in March.
- No payment or deposit is due at the time of registration; all registered campers will receive a notification when the scholarship application opens.
Registration: For more information about the 2023 camp program, you may visit their website, including a link to their registration partner, Active. Registration is now open.
Camping Unlimited: Camp Krem
45895 California Hwy 49
Ahwahnee, CA 93601
Type of Camp: Sleepaway camp
Camping Unlimited provides recreational activities in a sleepaway camp setting for campers of all ages and abilities. Their main camp offers a traditional program with small groups of campers sharing a cabin with their counselors. Campers are free to choose activities that interest them from a selection of swimming, hiking, arts and crafts, music, drama, animal care, nature study, talent shows, sport, dance, and much more. Activities and facilities are wheelchair accessible in most areas of the property. The general supervision ratio is 1:3, with 1:1 supervision available at extra cost; however, their 1:1 spaces will be very limited this summer. Priority will go to returning 1:1 campers, and then new campers will be enrolled from a waitlist, space permitting. The supervision ratio will be determined prior to camp after the conclusion of the intake and application process.
Dates: Sessions of either five days or ten days run between June 4 and August 13. Campers can register for See their website for specific dates of each session.
Age range: Campers range from eight-year-olds to older adults, depending on the length and type of sessions. Generally, all ages attend the same sessions, but cabins will be assigned to similar age groups as closely as possible.
- 1:3 supervision rate is $2,350 for a ten-day session or $1,175 for a five-day session. There's a $250-$500 deposit depending on session length.
- Camping Unlimited: Camp Krem is vendored by San Andreas Regional Center. According to Administrative Assistant/Registrar Gail Zigenis, in the past, if a camper was approved for out-of-home respite services, Regional Center would often cover a portion of the fees, but parents would be responsible for a share of the cost.
Registration: Registration for camp can be done online once dates have been solidified.
Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra
P.O. Box 7275, #1 Minaret Road Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 (760) 934-0791 Program Director: Maggie Palcha
Type of camp: Family overnight camps and daily activities sessions
Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra is a non-profit organization offering year-round adaptive sports opportunities to individuals of all ages with any disability. Their instructors are skilled in dealing with individuals with a variety of abilities, skill levels, and communication needs. In the winter, they offer Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, and snowboarding. In the summer, they offer cycling (both road and mountain), flat water paddling, rock climbing, hiking, and more. Depending on each individual’s intellectual, cognitive, and physical ability level as well as their goals, most of these sports can be adapted to accommodate any individual. The staff shared that it is best to provide them with your child’s individual needs so that they can discuss specific sports, and they are happy to chat with you by phone. They assess each athlete both through their online information form and through telephone and in-person assessments to get the best picture of their abilities, so the staff can adapt and set the child up for success. Activities and facilities are wheelchair accessible. The camp is not paved, but they provide accessible restrooms and have had a good number of individuals in wheelchairs participate.
Camps and dates:
Daily activity sessions: Most of their sessions are daily lessons. They offer sport lessons seven days a week by reservation. Morning lessons are 9:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m., and the afternoon lessons run 1:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Yearly camps: They host several camps throughout the year. The summer Pedal~Paddle is a family-friendly camp in August and a great opportunity to camp, cycle, and paddle together as a family. If camping overnight is not suitable or desirable, it is possible to participate in all camp activities and return to other lodging for the night. While they have staff onsite and/or on call throughout the night, they do not provide overnight or caregiver support. If an individual is not able to independently provide for their personal care, parental oversight or caregiver support must be provided by the family. The family must provide for any care needed outside of sport sessions. If campers need special accommodations or if the goal is to participate as a family, the staff members are happy to include family or aides as needed. This can be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
Age range: All ages
- Daily lessons are $105 per session, so a full day would be $210. Camp fees vary.
- They are contracted with Kern Regional Center.
- Scholarships are available on request.
Registration: While they are not taking reservations for summer yet, they would be happy to add your name to their list of those interested in their summer camps. Please call or email if you have any further questions.
The Painted Turtle
17000 Elizabeth Lake Rd. PO Box 455 Lake Hughes, CA 93532 (661) 724-1550 Ext. 203 Camp Admissions Manager: Carlie Green
Type of camp: Sleepaway camp, overnight family weekends, and virtual camp sessions
Founded by Paul Newman in 1999, the mission of The Painted Turtle is to provide an opportunity for kids with medical conditions to just be kids. Located outside of Los Angeles in Lake Hughes, California, The Painted Turtle has served tens of thousands of children and families since opening in 2004. Their mission is to provide a year-round, life-changing environment for children and their families by allowing children to participate in an authentic camp experience, supporting their medical needs, and offering their families care, education, and respite. As a Medical Specialty Camp, they support campers with a wide range of diagnoses, including cerebral palsy.
Camps and dates:
Family Weekend Program: Overnight Family Retreats in Lake Hughes The Painted Turtle invites families who are living with medical challenges to experience a weekend of camp in spring, winter, or fall. Families can enjoy campfires, carnivals, woodshop experience, fishing, arts and crafts, and more. The Painted Turtle says, “Fall and spring family weekends include parents and siblings in the enjoyment of an authentic camp experience and offer much-needed respite, recreation, and family time. For many families, their weekend at camp is their annual vacation, one they are only able to take because of our onsite medical support."
Summer Camp Sessions: The Painted Turtle welcomes children ages seven to sixteen for one of their five-day Summer Camp Sessions in 2023. In each session, campers will have the opportunity to participate in horseback rides and evening campfires. Children can become artists, swimmers, athletes, canoe paddlers, stargazers, actors on stage, adventurers, and, most importantly, friends. The campers form a unique community, living in cabins alongside other kids with similar medical conditions. With the support of peers, counselors, and onsite medical staff, campers are free to be themselves. Each session focuses on serving children with one of the medical conditions found most in need of camp opportunities.
Age range: Varies depending on program
Cost: All programs at The Painted Turtle are free of charge!
Registration: Applications are now open with availability for all sessions. To join the fun, please check The Painted Turtle’s website for the 2023 Calendar and camper eligibility to determine the best program and session for your family. All programs require an application on CampSite, The Painted Turtle’s Camper Database. They reserve some spaces for new campers, but they encourage families to apply as soon as possible.
Type of camp: Sleepaway camp in Lake Arrowhead
SInce 1947, AbilityFirst’s Camp Paivika has been holding camp in the San Bernardino Mountains to provide for campers with disabilities a traditional camping experience in a safe and nurturing environment. In addition to summer camp, they hold winter and spring programs, a fall Outdoor Adventure camp, a Group Ski Trip in the winter, and a Mom’s Retreat in the spring. Camp Paivika offers overnight summer programs for people of all ages with developmental and physical disabilities such as autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and Down syndrome. The Summer Camp Activities typically include swimming, horseback riding, adaptive sports and recreation, creative arts and crafts, performing arts, and nature studies in the summer. Campers develop social skills as well as independence and confidence.
Camps and dates:
- With multiple sessions divided by age running weekly from June 26 through August 12, Camp Paivika offers campers the opportunity to spend five nights in the San Bernardino National Forest. This five-night camp will have a 1:3 counselor-to-camper ratio. 1:1 counselor care is not available this summer, but one family member or caregiver may attend as the camper’ 1:1. This option is only available to campers who need 1:1 care based on past visits and/or intake evaluations, and they must be approved by Camp Paivika Director.
Friends and Family Camp: Day Camp (August 13), Weekend (March 24-26), or Week (August 16-21)
- Camp Paivika offers a Friends and Family Camp multiple times during the year beginning in March. This program has no age requirement; it requires campers to bring their own companion who can provide supervision and care. Camp activities will include swimming, crafts, performing arts, nature activities, sports, and rec activities.
Age range: Nine to eighteen and up
Cost: Week-long summer programming costs $1,550 per camper. Friend and Family Camp costs vary by program length and number of participants. For a cost breakdown, you can check out Camp Paivika’s program schedule and rates.
- Use Camp Paivika’s registration link to register.
- All attendees are required to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 24 hours prior to arrival at camp (at-home tests are acceptable).
Type of camp: In-person overnight camp
RAD Camp focuses on empowering children with disabilities, and their staff and volunteers are trained to support campers with disabilities. The environment is open and accepting, recognizing that everyone has gifts. At RAD, campers develop life skills in fun and creative ways. RAD offers a series of overnight weekend and summer camp programs every year. They provide services to individuals with more significant support needs; every camper gets a 1:1 aide, and there is nursing staff on site. 2023 summer programming at RAD Camp is at capacity, but check their site to see if spots open up.
- RAD Camps for adults aged twenty-two and up
- RAD Jr. Camps for teens ages thirteen to twenty-one
- RAD Mini Camps for children ages four to twelve
United States Adaptive Recreation Center: Summer Programs
Type of camp: Family overnight camps and single-day participation camp
The United States Adaptive Recreation Center (USARC) offers an adaptive outdoor activity experience for everyone to enjoy as a family. USARC opens summer day camps in July and August, located in Serrano Campground in Big Bear Lake. There are single-day sessions and two-day, two-night overnight camp sessions. Single-day participation includes water skiing, paddle sports, fishing, and nature walks. USARC shares that for “water contact sports, swimming ability is not necessary, but all participants must wear a flotation vest and be able to hold their breath and right themselves from a face-down position in ten seconds.” They will require you to confirm this at the time you make your reservation. For safety reasons, participation may be limited or prevented due to certain disabilities or other factors.
Camps and Dates: J
Paddle Sports and Fishing/Nature Stroll ‘n’ Roll Day Sessions: The USARC offers single-day sessions on Tuesdays “focusing on paddle sports and fishing or a nature walk along beautiful Big Bear Lake.” Day sessions begin at 8:00 a.m. and end at 3:00 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break (lunch is not provided during day sessions). June 15, 29; July 6; August 8, 22.
Water Skiing and Paddle Sports Day Sessions: The USARC offers single-day sessions on Wednesdays and Thursdays “focusing on water skiing and paddle sports. A group booking an entire session may substitute activities.” Day Sessions: July 12, 13, 26, 27; August 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24.
Family Overnight Session: Overnight sessions at Serrano Campground in Big Bear Lake include instruction in the above water sports activities combined with an accessible camping experience at night. Serrano Campground’s “accessible toilets and showers, as well as some paved surfaces, blend some necessary conveniences with a wilderness experience, and electrical outlets are available in nearby facilities. Still, an element of rugged individualism should be expected.” They have a few tents to loan out to those who need it. Hotels and cabins are not provided by USARC, but some participants prefer to book their own room rather than sleep in a tent (USARC does not pay for hotel stays). Meals are provided during overnight camp; the activities include water skiing, tube riding, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, and sailing when the lake levels are high enough.
- Overnight Session 1: July 16-18 (Sunday–Tuesday)
- Overnight Session 2: July 19-21 (Wednesday–Friday)
- Note: USARC shares that during summer programs, non-disabled family members, friends, and aides of participants with a disability are welcome to pay the fee and participate fully. Fees include a campfire snack on the first evening and all meals through lunch on the last day, camping fees, permits and licenses, instruction, and use of all water activity equipment. Among other personal items, participants must provide their own sleeping bag and a washable or disposable place setting with cup, plate, bowl, and utensils.
Age range: All ages
- Regional Center Funding: USARC is eligible for Regional Center funds. Most students participate using the Self-Determination Program through Regional Center.
- Annual registration fee: Families are asked to pay an annual registration fee and to remit payment within two weeks of making reservations, payable by credit card or check. USARC’s annual registration fee is valid for the calendar year. Annual registration is $35 for individuals, $50 for families, and $100 for groups.
- Lesson fees: All lesson fees are due in full and are non-refundable one month prior to your reserved date.
- Water Skiing and Paddle Sports Day Sessions: $150 per person
- Paddle Sports and Fishing/Nature Stroll ‘n’ Roll Day Sessions: $50 per person
- Overnight Sessions: $325 per person
Registration: You may inquire with Administrative Assistant Shelly L Egerer for more information regarding registration.
The Painted Turtle
17000 Elizabeth Lake Rd.
Lake Hughes, CA 93532
Admissions: (661) 724-1768
Camp office: (661) 724-1550
Format: Family camp and summer sleepaway camp
The Painted Turtle is a year-round medical specialty camp for children who have serious medical conditions. All campers and their families attend free of charge.
Through condition-specific, week-long Summer Sessions and Fall and Spring Family Weekends, children have the opportunity to learn new strategies of medical self-care, increase their confidence, and build supportive friendships with peers who have the same medical conditions. While at camp children can swim, fish, ride horses, sing campfire songs, and develop lasting friendships. Every aspect of the adaptive programming—from a wheelchair-friendly ropes course to exceptional on-site medical care—is designed to allow all campers to fully participate in activities. All programs are “challenge by choice,” meaning staff celebrates the courage of all campers who challenge themselves to new things. Activities are conducted with close supervision and the utmost regard for safety. Some activities are done as a cabin group, with plenty of time for free-choice sign-ups.
Camps: The Painted Turtle is hosting 7, 6 and 5 day Summer Camp Sessions in 2023. Highlights of this program include:
- Cabins of up to 8 campers.
- Testing pre-travel and upon arrival.
- Cabin Counselors to ensure camper safety and fun!
- Camp activities include Woodshop, Arts and Crafts, Boating, Fishing, swimming in the pool, Creative Arts, Archery, Ropes Course and zip line, Campfire, Silly Olympics, Stage Night, and more.
(They also have a “Camp at Home” option for Cystic Fibrosis, Pediatric Pancreatitis, and Ventilator Dependent.)
- June 7-11: Summer Session: Skeletal Dysplasia & MPS
- June 16-20: Summer Session: Kidney Disease and Transplant
- June 25-29: Summer Session: Muscular Dystrophy
- July 7-11: Summer Session: Special Diagnoses
- August 3-6: Family Weekend: ALD(Adrenoleukodystrophy)
- July 16-21: Summer Session: Hemophilia/VWD and Thalassemia
- July 26-30: Summer Session: Liver Disease and Transplant, PIDD, TPN, and IBD
- August 9-13: Summer Session: Sibling
Age Range and Requirements:
- Family Weekend: Between the ages of 6-17
- Summer Camp: Between the ages of 7-16
- Have a minimum developmental age of 5 years
- Be able to function and participate in a group setting
- Able to communicate needs independently
- Can be without family members for a limited period of time (overnight retreats and family weekends) or the duration of the camp session (summer camp)
Location: Lake Hughes, CA
Register: Review the camp calendar and camper eligibility to determine the best session for your child and family. Registration for The Painted Turtle is on their website. Review the “How To Guide” for the session you are applying for, as well as the required forms. These guides include helpful tips on applying through the CampSite database.
- How to Apply Guide: Family Weekend and Summer Sessions
- How to Apply Guide: Camp at Home
- Create a new CampSite account and complete the camp application
- Already have a CampSite account? Log in to your existing account
Summer Programs do have registration deadlines, so be sure to check registration dates for the session(s) you'd like to register for. For more information on the application process, you can contact Camper Admissions at (661) 724-1768 or email@example.com.
Medical staff: The Painted Turtle has a full-time medical staff led by our Medical Director, who is a pediatrician, and our Health Center Director, who is a registered nurse with many years of experience in acute pediatric medical care. A physician is onsite at all times. In addition, each summer more than 140 volunteer physicians and nurses come to The Painted Turtle to care for our campers, according to their medical specialty. They have a 24-hour medical center, called the Well Shell, equipped to handle everything from a skinned knee to hemodialysis treatments. There are two “homerooms” in the Well Shell, in case a camper does not feel well during camp and needs to be monitored by the medical staff overnight. If children are on medication, their nurses will bring the medication to them on schedule each day, whether the campers are in the Dining Hall, at an activity area, or in their cabins.
Looking for more summer activities? Check out our full roundup of summer 2023 camps and classes.
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