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In operation since 1947, Camp Paivika has a rich and enduring history!

  • Early 1940s – Lucia Laufeld, a special education teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, dreams of a special place in the mountains for special children. She becomes one of a number of individuals and groups – along with restaurateur and philanthropist Lawrence L. Frank – with the faith and vision to make Camp Paivika a reality.
  • 1947 – AbilityFirst (known at the time as the Crippled Children’s Society of Southern California) is granted a special use permit from the San Bernardino Forest from the U.S. Forest Service to build a camp in Crestline originally called the “Old San Bernardino Municipal Playground.” It is the first camp in the U.S. to be built specifically for children and adults with disabilities.
  • July 1, 1947 – First resident camp session held. A contest among the campers results in the name Camp Paivika. Paivika (pie-vee-ka) is a word in the Cahuilla Native American language that means dawn.
  • 1950s – Swimming pool and gazebo completed.
  • 1970s – New crafts center and dormitories built.
  • 1990s – Facility rentals offered during the off season.
  • 1993 – First on-site, year-round camp director hired.
  • July 12, 1997 – 50th anniversary held with a grand celebration attended by over 200 alumni.
  • 1998 – New lodge opens, the result of 20 years of planning and fundraising.
  • 2006 – Facility expansion due to the closure of another AbilityFirst-owned camp in Malibu and consolidation into Camp Paivika.
  • 2007 – New, fifth cabin and updated health center increased the overall capacity of campers per session.
  • 2014 – New swimming pool opened, thanks to support from the AS&F Foundation, The Fred L. Hartley Family Foundation and the Gesner-Johnson Family Foundation.
  • 2022- Camp Paivika turns 75 Years Old. Anniversary celebrations are postponed until the summer of 2023 due to Covid-19 concerns.
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