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Providing Fun and Exploration for People with Special Needs
Since its beginning in 1947, AbilityFirst Camp Paivika has provided safe, fun, and exceptional camp programs for children and adults with special needs. Today, as Camp Paivika celebrates its 65th anniversary, campers age nine and above continue to attend camp for these very same reasons.
As one of the nation’s first resident recreational camps built specifically for people with disabilities, kids, teens, and adults with mild to severe physical and developmental disabilities come to Camp Paivika year round for horseback riding, swimming, adaptive sports, campfires, skiing, cookouts, and much more. Located in the San Bernardino National Forest, just outside of Los Angeles, campers experience a sense of freedom inspired by time spent outdoors in natural surroundings. They learn and develop new interests and confidence through guided play, build on their social skills, and explore new friendships.
“At camp, I felt like I learned how to be more independent and learned how to be with other campers and how to trust myself to be by myself and to be free, because it’s the only place I can go and be independent,” said 22-year-old Corey Capece, who has been attending camp for the past 12 years. Corey, who has Cerebral Palsy, requires complete assistance with all of his personal care.
Corey is not the only camper who feels this way about Camp Paivika. Campers of all ages with a full spectrum of disabilities have experienced the same sense of well-being and independence. Although there are many campers like Corey who have attended camp year after year, there are also many who come to Camp Paivika for the first time, never having been away from their parents. At Camp Paivika, staff responds with understanding and support to help make this very important transition a success.
Opportunities for socialization are built into every program and activity at Camp Paivika. Fully accredited by the American Camp Association, and operated under special use permit with the San Bernardino National Forest, Camp Paivika welcomes 58 campers each session. The 12-acre facility includes five dormitories, a health care center, craft center, nature study center, amphitheater, and a main lodge with a recreation room and dining hall, plus horse stables, swimming pool, and a fire ring for cookouts and campfires.
At all times, the safety and well-being of each camper are first and foremost, and our qualified and carefully screened staff and nursing personnel meet the medical, diet, feeding, and personal hygiene care and assistance needs of each camper with respect and dignity for all.
Camp Paivika has a rich history, a strong legacy, and builds friendships that last a lifetime. Registration for this year’s summer sessions is now open. For more information, visit www.abilityfirst.org/camppaivika or call Kelly Kunsek at 909-338-1102.
AbilityFirst™ was established in 1926 as the Crippled Children’s Society of Southern California (CCS). In 1999, the organization adopted the name AbilityFirst™ to better reflect our mission, vision for the future, and commitment to celebrating the unique abilities of every individual. AbilityFirst™ vision is of a society that values each individual and provides the opportunity for all people to lead full and productive lives. For more than 80 years, we have been looking beyond disabilities, focusing on capabilities, and expanding possibilities. AbilityFirst’s 24 locations include 10 accessible housing complexes, two group homes, three work centers, one camp, seven community centers and an AbilityFirst™ Employment Services office. For more information, go to www.abilityfirst.org or call (626) 396-1010.