Camps Without Barriers

Many camps nationwide are designed to accommodate the needs of people with specific types of disabilities.  Our ministry seeks to be open and accommodating regardless of one’s abilities.  If you are a parent of a special needs child that wants to go to a fishing camp or a horse camp with his siblings or his friends it can happen because the Minnesota United Methodist Camping ministry is able to hire a special Integration Specialist counselor to provide the extra support needed. This comes at no extra cost to the camper.  Or, if your child/youth has an assistant at school to help read, write and communicate, they can still go to a camp of their choosing, again at no extra cost, because we train and support our summer staff so they can learn how/why to integrate everyone into the camping program.


How it Works

When a camper registers for a camp there is a place on the registration that asks for information on any special needs.  The information asked ranges from allergies and bedwetting to autism, hearing loss, ADHD and others.  Once the registration form is processed and a need is listed this is given to our Needs Assessor and they do a needs assessment, a half hour or so interview with the parent/guardian to get more detailed information about the special need.  This interview is then turned into a written report that details the disability-general information that defines the disability, specifics that are pertinent to that camper, suggestions for adaptations in programming or suggestions from the parent/guardian as to how to help the camper during the week.  This report is sent to the camp leader and the camp.  All summer staff has been trained to read these reports and use them as they plan camp activities.


After the needs assessment it may be determined that it would be helpful to the camper and the camp if the camper had a helper for the week, an integration specialist (IS).  This is a staff person assigned to work at camps during the summer to help campers with disabilities.  If it is determined that a camper should have an IS, the Camps Without Barriers will provide the camp with the additional staff for the week.  This person will be at camp to help provide assistance in understanding the camper’s special needs and abilities, provide suggestions as needed for adaptations in programming, and assist the paid or volunteer staff as needed to help camp run smoothly (such as providing time outs, rest periods for the camper, dealing with issues or needs as they arise so the main staff can continue with programming.)  In no way is the IS to be the one-on-one camp staff person for the camper.  The IS is there to be a support to the ministry of the camp.   The biggest benefit to having an IS at camp is to help all the campers feel integrated, included and have a wonderful experience.  The IS is there to also help the other campers begin to understand disabilities and abilities.  The IS is there to minister with all campers.


Integration Specialists Major Responsibilities:

  1. Help camp leaders and staff identify and develop adaptations for activities, as needed, to include the participation of campers with disabilities. Assist in the implementation of these activities as appropriate.
  2. Facilitate positive interpersonal relationships between campers, and campers and staff.  Provide disability awareness orientation to campers and staff as necessary.
  3. Insure camper well being, including making sure camper receives medication at appropriate times (this does not mean dispensing meds), assisting with mobility, and may include self-care skills such as grooming, toileting, etc., if necessary. Live on campgrounds and sleep in a camper cabin.
  4. Establish contact with parents/guardians of these campers prior to camp in order to identify the special needs of that camper and the type of support that is necessary for their particular disability. This information will be communicated to the camp leader and camp director prior to camp session.
  5. Provide a positive role model for accepting and including people with disabilities in one's everyday life.



If you have additional questions about this program for your child with special needs or if you would like to get involved as an Integration Specialist please contact us today.

Camp Minnesota Administrative Offices
122 W. Franklin Ave., Suite 400
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Phone: (855) 622-1973
Fax: (612) 870-1260