Camp For All is a unique camping and retreat facility that works in collaboration with other non-profits to provide life changing programs for children and adults with challenging illnesses and special needs. Campers of all ages and abilities gain self-confidence and independence while having fun, learning new skills and bonding with others who share their challenges in a safe and understanding environment.
Experience that Lasts a Lifetime
Campers learn what they can do at Camp For All, not what they can't do. For the first time, they are surrounded by others with the same challenges and the feeling of loneliness goes away. Surrounded by understanding and acceptance and immersed in the Camp For All activities and positive environment, they have an opportunity to focus on the joy of life. That feeling of independence and confidence goes home with them. And regardless of how much longer they have to live, they are not just survivors, they have become strong survivors.
More than 8,000 all year long
Located between Houston and Austin, in Washington County, Texas more than 8,000 campers attend Camp For All throughout the year. The majority of the campers are children who come from the greater Houston area, the greater camp area and much of southeast Texas. However, several of the groups that attend draw nationally and abroad. The campers come from myriad socio-economic backgrounds and many would not have the means to attend camp if they were healthy. Altogether, more than 100,000 have attended since the camp opened in 1998. Maps and Directions
Impacts the Entire Family
When one person in a family has a challenge, it effects the entire family. Camp For All impacts them all. If just the family member with a challenge or illness attends camp, the parents or caregivers get a much needed break and can focus on other family members. If it is a sibling camp, the siblings have a chance to feel as loved and important as the patient that gets most of the attention. Camps for the whole family are an opportunity to be away from the hospital routine, for parents to see children do things they didn't think possible, realize they are not alone and bond together in a safe and understanding environment.
Barrier Free Not Just Accessible
Camp For All is a unique, state of the art facility that is totally barrier free, not just accessible. A few examples of what barrier free means is that there are no stairs, all bathrooms and shower stalls are wheelchair accessible (not just one), sidewalks are concrete and wide enough for two wheelchairs, and there is even a tree house for all! With a universal approach to programming , all campers have the opportunity to experience horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, archery, water activities, team sports, arts and crafts, nature programs, and much more at their own level. This includes the state of the art challenge course, climbing wall, and of course, the zip line!
Collaboration with Other Non-Profits (Partners)
Working in collaboration with 56 other non-profits, children and adults attend Camp For All with cancer, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries, cognitive issues, severe burns, cerebral palsy, sickle cell, visual challenges, epilepsy, heart issues, autism and so much more. Since 1998 more than 90,000 have come through our gates to Discover Life.
We collaborate with Texas Children's Hospital, Epilepsy Foundation Houston, Scott and White, Memorial Hermann, M.D. Anderson, The Periwinkle Foundation, Brenham State Supported Living Center, Briarwood School, Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, The Parish School and more. View our Partner Directory.
Camp For All provides the barrier free facility, dietary appropriate food, universal programming and professional staff. Partners bring the campers, their volunteers, medical staff, medications and occasionally additional programming supplies. As a result, campers can continue treatments at camp. And overall, they receive better care because the medical professionals already know them and specialize in their particular issue. For doctors and nurses, being at camp with their patients has resulted in changes in protocols and much more positive relationships with the campers once they return to "the real world".
Commitment to Collaboration
To insure that this life changing experience is available for the growing number of people we serve, Camp For All is committed to raising funds to cover much of the cost for each individual to attend. Currently, Camp For All raises funds to provide 50% of the cost for each camper. The Partner fee is also 50%. It is important to note that the majority of the campers do not pay the Partners to come to Camp For All.
A donation to Camp For All helps thousands of people each year with a wide range of challenges. The operating goal for 2010 is $1,800,000. Donations cover the cost of providing this life changing experience including food, beverage, program supplies, building maintenance, developing new programming, energy, arts and crafts supplies, sports equipment, professional staff, and so much more. 82% of the donations go directly to camper support. 16% is dedicated to administrative and fundraising expenses.
Growing Need and Strategic Plan
Currently, Camp For All is completely booked for the weeklong summer camps and there is a waitlist. Fall and Spring weekends are close to filling up. Winter weekend and weekday camp times are available. (If you are interested in starting a new camp at Camp For All go to
New Camp here.) Camp For All Board of Directors has approved a new strategic plan. This plan addresses the growing capacity at the current site and how the organization will respond to the ever growing need.
- Camp For All serves as a resource for other organizations that are interested in building a special needs camp. We have provided information regarding building a truly barrier free site, a Board of Directors, Governance, strategic planning, marketing, the architecture process and goals, staffing, programming, fundraising, finance and management. We have worked with Camp Aranzazu, Texas, Camp Kindle, California, Mississippi's Toughest Kids, Mississippi, and many more.
- Kurt Podeszwa, Camp Director, serves on the national Board of Directors of the American Camp Association.
- The Outcome Study by Texas A&M University, Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism is a one of a kind study on the impact of camping for children with special needs. Interim results have been published and shared nationally and internationally as will the final report in the fall of 2010.
- Sterling Leija, Guest Services and Volunteer Manager, serves on the Board of Directors of the TEXOMA branch of the American Camp Association.
- Staff presents at various camp related conferences across the country.
- Camp For All Staff serve as industry resources.
Kurt Podeszwa, Camp Director, serves on the American Camp Association (ACA) Board of Directors, administrative and management staff provide continuing education at special needs and other camp conferences and Camp For All staffers are Standards Visitors for ACA. Altogether, the Camp For All staff has 137 years of experience in special needs camping.
Before putting pen to paper, the first step taken by Curry Boudreaux Architects and founders was to get feedback from the initial Partners to determine how the camp would be designed to meet the needs of the people they served. The result is an award winning, barrier free facility that is beautiful, welcoming that provides flexibility, is low maintenance, and energy efficient. This same approach has been duplicated with each addition and has become the culture of the camp. Camp For All is considered an "architectural destination in Texas".
There is no other camp like it in the country and it serves as a resource for others wanting to build special needs camps.
Camp For All is participating in a first of its kind Outcome Study on special needs camping. Working with Texas A & M University, this important study will be completed the summer of 2010.
Further research stemming from the original study have already been published and shared nationally.
Cutting Edge Programming to Share
Camp For All takes a "can do" attitude towards finding better ways to make our programming even more accessible to all campers regardless of their abilities. If we can't find a solution on the current market, we develop it ourselves. This includes the cutting edge challenge course that enables more campers to experience multiple opportunities for growth of self-confidence. Wanting to help other special needs camps, Camp For All makes this technology available to other facilities. For information, contact Kurt Podeszwa at firstname.lastname@example.org.