Special Needs Camps in the Bay Area
Camp Sunburst is a week-long residential summer camp helping HIV/AIDS children and their families enjoy the companionship of others without social stigma and isolation associated with the disease. Children can freely participate in a variety of camp activities, including swimming, hiking, fishing, arts and crafts, sports and campfires.
2 Padre Parkway, #106, Rohnert Park
Camp Superstuff Asthma Camp is a week-long day camp offered by Breathe California designed for children ages 6-12 suffering from asthma. Campers take part in traditional camp activities, like field trips, games, arts and crafts, while learning to live and manage asthma.
1469 Park Ave, San Jose
The Health & Environment Resource Center offers camps during the summer and school breaks for children with asthma. Campers can learn asthma management, meet friends and go on a field trip. Registration is available through the child’s school nurse. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided.
828 Innes Ave., # 111, San Francisco
Today’s Youth Matter offers six-day residential summer camps for children ages 8-12 from foster care, low performing schools, Children’s Protective Services and homeless shelters. The camp, located in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Pescadero, allows campers to experience the exhilaration of sleeping in a teepee, cook on an open fire, ride mountain boards and frolic in the swimming pool.
Sobrato Center for Nonprofits
461 Valley Way, Milpitas
Camp Hope is a free weekend-long camp for children and teens, ages 6 to 17, who have lost a loved one. It is staffed by counselors who have experienced the same kinds of loss as the children. It offers traditional and therapeutic activities such as swimming, hiking, arts and crafts, rope courses, a climbing wall, indoor games, volleyball, basketball, storytelling, folk singing and relaxation. It takes place in the spring and fall.
5535 Arroyo Road, Livermore
Blindness and Visually Impaired
The Lighthouse offers day camps in San Francisco in partnership with San Francisco Recreation and Park’s Project Insight program. There’s a camp for ages 6 to 12 and one for ages 13 to 19. It also offers family and sleep-away camps at Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa, one of a few camps in the country that serve blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind and multi-disabled children.
214 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
Camp Kesem gives children affected by a parent’s cancer the opportunity to just be kids by engaging participants in fun week-long, residential summer camp activities at YMCA’s Camp Loma Mar (hosted by Stanford University) and YMCA’s Camp Jones Gulch (hosted by UC Berkeley).
Camp Kesem, Stanford University
Camp Kesem, UC Berkeley
Camp Okizu offers pediatric cancer patients and their siblings residential summer camp programs that allow campers to experience fun, adventure, independence, camaraderie and learning in the outdoor setting of Berry Creek. Expert medical supervision, as well as transportation to the camp, is provided. Okizu also offers family camps, teen and young adult retreats and bereavement programs.
16 Digital Drive, Novato
CCFA’s Camp Oasis is a co-ed residential camp program at Lake Hughes with a mission to enrich the lives of children ages 7-16 with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis by providing a safe and supportive camp community.
CCFA Northern California Chapter
5 Third St., #625, San Francisco
Developmental & Learning Disabilities
Building Bridges Camp gives individuals who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Assistive Technology (AT) an opportunity to develop their communication skills in a fun, motivating, no-pressure environment in Boulder Creek. Campers ages 5-17 attend a week-long residential camp experiencing swimming, horseback riding, and arts and crafts. Additionally, adults who want to learn more about working with AAC/AT can participate in the concurrent training institute.
The Bridge School
545 Eucalyptus Ave, Hillsborough
Camp Costanoan is Via Services’ residential, outdoor education, recreation and learning center for children and adults ages 5 and older with physical and/or developmental disabilities and special needs. Camp is located on 13 wooded acres nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Stevens Creek County Park, just 15 miles west of San Jose and 45 miles south of San Francisco.
2851 Park Ave, Santa Clara
Camp Krem serves children and adults who have Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism or other developmental disabilities in a traditional, residential camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Five to 12-day sessions offer activities that include daily swimming, arts, music, sports, cheerleading, dance, drama, nature hikes and field trips. Outdoor adventure and travel programs are also available. Camping Unlimited-Camp Krem sponsors many year-around weekend trips in the East Bay and South Bay areas. Bus service from Emeryville is available.
102 Brook Lane, Boulder Creek
Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake is a fully-accessible residential summer camp for children with a variety of special medical needs, economic hardship and/or emotional, developmental or physical disabilities. Because barriers are removed, campers enjoy traditional camping activities such as arts and crafts, hikes, fishing, canoeing, sports, swimming, talent shows and campfires.
Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern California
AbilityFirst Camp Paivika is a year-round program for children, teens and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. The program encourages independence and broadens social contacts through recreation.
600 Playground Drive, Crestline
Lighthouse Project provides day camps dedicated to providing occupational therapy, speech pathology, social skills development services for children with nonverbal learning disorders, Asperger’s syndrome, high-functioning autism, ADHD and ADD.
471 Division St., Campbell
The Sensation Nation offers recreational and athletic opportunities for children needing help developing motor, behavioral, and social skills in a safe and nurturing environment. Students learn the fundamentals of gymnastics, ball and racquet sports, and other age-appropriate activities designed to attend to the sensory and behavioral needs of each student. Classes held at various California Sports Center locations throughout San Jose, as well as at the West Coast Olympic Gymnastic Academy in Pleasanton.
Sunny Days Preschool, a part of PACE Early Intervention, offers afternoon playgroups for children to enhance their social communication and interactive play skills with peers. &pagebreaking&Monthly sessions are filled with fun and exciting play-based activities including music, movement and art. Groups feature 2:1 staff ratio for children ages 2 ½ to 6 years.
897 Broadleaf Lane, San Jose
Quest Therapeutic Camp is a day camp at Stone Valley Middle School for children with behavior, emotional and social difficulties. Treatment plans are individualized with daily group therapy as well as camp activities. Bi-weekly evening group parent meetings help parents utilize Quest techniques at home and school. Parents receive access to www.directiveparenting.com, an online child therapy program.
2333 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #125, San Ramon
Raskob Learning Institute and Day School provides academics, enrichment and educational therapy in individual and small group settings for a comprehensive program that is intended for bright students with learning differences. The summer day camp program is open to students entering grades 1-8; ages 6-14.
3520 Mountain Blvd., Oakland
The Roleplay Workshop is an inclusion program (with a ratio of no more than two learning challenged students per group of six students) dedicated to providing educational enrichment in a day camp environment. To help motivate and enrich students (ages 10-18), an interactive storytelling game called Abantey helps teach students math, science, and problem-solving skills. Players work their way through complicated mysteries to create their own stories. Sleep-away camp is available to select experienced students ages 13 and up.
Programs held at: 4014 Piedmont Ave., Oakland
Mailing address: 925 39th St., Oakland
510-654-3582 (contact: Becky Thomas, program director)
Diabetic Youth Foundation’s Bearskin Meadow Camp is a summer camp for children with diabetes. Located in in the Sequoia National Forest, it is attended by families from all over the country and staffed by a team of medical professionals, many of whom have diabetes. Campers can meet others living with diabetes, learn about diabetes through activities and lectures and have fun camping adventures. The camp has a heated pool, an arts and crafts studio, playing fields, access to hiking and fishing and more. Scholarships are available.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California’s Youth Summer Camp allows kids ages 9-16 to enjoy the outdoors and friendships, and leave behind some of the challenges epilepsy brings to their daily lives. Physicians and nurses specialized in epilepsy care are at the camp round the clock. The camp provides an enjoyable experience, helps children develop their self-esteem and fosters independence in a safe environment. Full and partial scholarships are available to campers with a financial need.
Epilepsy Foundation Northern California
155 Montgomery St., #309, San Francisco
Camp Hemotion, a week-long residential camp at Camp Arroyo in Livermore sponsored by Hemophilia Foundation of Northern California, provides children with bleeding disorders and known carriers an opportunity to learn and function in an environment where having such a disorder does not set them apart from others.
6400 Hollis St., #6, Emeryville
Bay Area Parent Associate Editor Teresa Mills-Faraudo contributed to this story.