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Camp Riley Offers Kids With Disabilities the Freedom to Fully Enjoy Summer Camp

Campers at Camp Riley can shatter perceived expectations, make new friends, and return home with increased confidence.
Children of Riley throwing colored powder during Camp Independence at Camp Riley

“Get Engaged (in Your Community) with Tiffany Hanson” is a series exploring community engagement opportunities in Indianapolis. 

A photo of the Get Engaged slide with a picture of a woman next to it

riley children's hospital camp riley logo two little girls smilingWith summer weather quickly approaching, many of us are excited to enjoy the warmth of the Indiana sunshine and the feeling of freedom and empowerment that comes from spending time in nature. As many of us celebrate the ability to move freely about outdoors, Camp Riley offers kids with disabilities and other diagnoses the freedom to enjoy every aspect of a robust summer camp program.

 
 
 
 
 
 

GETTING TO KNOW CAMP RILEY

It’s my pleasure to introduce you fabulous Mavens out there to Camp Riley—a program that empowers children with physical and cognitive diagnoses through summer camp experiences hosted in an environment tailored to their unique needs.

Riley little girl in wheelchair smiling and painting on a tapestry
A camper at Camp Riley

Since 1955, Camp Riley has operated at Bradford Woods, a 2,500-acre campus located between Bloomington and Indianapolis. With a vision to be global leaders in delivering inclusive and experiential outdoor programming, their team has built an environment where campers shatter perceived limitations, make new friends, and reach higher achievements, many times returning home with an increased sense of independence and confidence.

“There are a lot of kids who depend on this camp to figure out what they can do and apply it to the real world,” shared Alyssa, a Camp Riley camper.

HOW CAMP RILEY HELPS

Each summer, more than 300 campers make their “home away from home” at one of eight Camp Riley sessions, enjoying facilities and activities that are designed to be barrier-free.

Short hair woman soft smiling in Indiana University beanie
Sammy Petitte

“We are so fortunate to have the adaptive equipment that we do that allows for our campers to climb the alpine tower, go ziplining, fishing, enjoy our evening programming at our amphitheater, practice archery, and more,” Sammy Petitte, Assistant Director of Recreation Therapy at Bradford Woods, shared.

The impressive list of adaptive summer activities includes:

  • Archery
  • Climbing towers
  • Scuba diving
  • Swimming
  • Waterskiing

    Female camper smiles and laughs as she slowly starts to fall off the water ski
    One Camp Riley camper enjoys adaptive water skiing

Camp Riley not only removes physical and environmental barriers to enjoying the full summer camp experience for these kiddos, they also focus on removing financial barriers to families through the generous support of Riley Children’s Foundation. No camper is turned away due to financial need.

Riley camper wearing a life-jacket having fun swimming in the pool as another camper holds her
Swimming at Camp Riley

Staff from Riley Children’s Health provide 24-hour medical coverage for Camp Riley, including medical and nursing directors, resident physicians, nurses, and even a pharmacy team.

“Every person deserves the joy and connection that comes with attending summer camp. Especially over the last two years with the pandemic, connection with ourselves, others, and the world around us has become so much more precious to us all. We get to help provide opportunities for campers to have fun and maybe even find new interests they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise!” Petitte said.

Does this sound amazing? I’ve got great news, Mavens—there are several ways you (and your minis) can get engaged to support this incredible program!

PUT A RING ON IT: WAYS TO GET ENGAGED

The last time Camp Riley hosted in-person sessions, 40% of campers received financial assistance, so financial support from the community is vital to the success of the program. As the Camp Riley team ramps up to host their program in 2022, they can surely use the power of our network of Mavens to help.

Here are some engagement opportunities to consider:

  • Make a financial gift.
    – Simply visit the Riley Children’s Foundation website and select Camp Riley as the area you would like your donation to support.
  • Provide the Camp Riley experience to children with the gift of a campership, or fulfill items for camper care and programming from the Camp Riley wish list.
    – Reach out to Riley Children’s Foundation communications professional, Olivia Mozzi, at OMozzi@RileyKids.org.
  • Rally your family and friends to host a fundraiser activity. This could look like asking friends for donations to celebrate your birthday, running a race for donations, or scheduling a car wash.
    – Don’t worry, you won’t be in it alone. The Riley Children’s Foundation team has plenty of tools to help with your fundraising efforts.

MINI-MAVENS CAN GET INVOLVED TOO!

Looking for an opportunity to get your kiddos engaged in the community? Consider getting your mini-Mavens involved! Maybe your Mavens-in-the-making would jump at the chance to host a lemonade stand to raise funds for the campers.

Or perhaps you have a college student at home that’s looking for a fulfilling summer job. You might suggest they check out summer staff positions at Bradford Woods.

Two little girls who are camp riley campers are wearing glasses and helmets and smiling
Camp Riley campers.

Maybe you have a future camper at home? “Camp is important to me because it’s a place where people understand me,” shared camper Cassity. Submit an application online to join the program in 2022, but be sure to apply now—the first sessions begin at the end of May and run through the end of July.

Tiffany Hanson is an outreach and engagement professional committed to finding ways to embrace and support humans wherever she goes. You can find her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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