Frequently Asked Questions
How do children and adults with disabilities benefit from Camp Paivika?
Through a broad range of activities – including swimming, horseback riding, adaptive sports and recreation, creative arts and crafts, performing arts and nature studies in the summer as well as outdoor adventures and group ski trips in the winter and spring – campers develop social skills as well as independence and confidence. During their stay children have that lights-out giggle so typical of our experience growing up, and when they return many parents are surprised at what they can do, from independently choosing their clothes for the day to tying their shoes or brushing their teeth without assistance.
What specific disabilities is Camp Paivika equipped to address?
We are staffed and equipped for those with special needs including, but not limited to:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Down’s Syndrome
- Hearing Impairment/Deaf
- Developmental Delay
- Mobility Limitation
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Speech/Communication Impairment
- Spina Bifida
- Visual Impairment/Blind
What level of medical care do you provide and what are your staff qualifications that provide such care?
We have licensed nurses that reside on site when summer camp is in session. The nurses provide the following medical care:
- All medication management: administering medications and record keeping
- Diabetic care
- Catheter/Ostomy care
- G-tube feedings
- Trache care
- Breathing treatments
- Emergency medical care if required
My child requires a great deal of personal care. Can you handle that?
Our staff are trained and competent in providing the following types of care:
- Lifting and transferring
- Bathing: We have secure shower chairs that wheel into our “roll in” showers. The showers have handheld shower heads to facilitate assisted bathing.
- Toileting and diapering for children and adults
- Daily hygiene such as combing hair and brushing teeth
What is the staffer-to-camper ratio?
Campers must be able to function safely in a group environment. Staff-to-camper ratios are 1 to 3 during most times of the day.
Do you provide 1 to 1 counselor care?
We have limited 1 to 1 counselor care available for individuals that require extra supervision or assistance. There is an additional fee for 1 to 1 care. This option is designed for campers who may have a difficult time remaining in the larger group environment or who require extensive 1 to 1 personal care. Please keep in mind that all staff sleep when campers sleep and we are not equipped to provide 1 to 1 supervision during nighttime hours. 1 to 1 counselor care is not available for individuals who exhibit any of challenging behaviors listed in the next Q/A.
Are there any behavioral challenges that could prevent someone from being accepted into your camp programs?
The following behavioral challenges may not be considered appropriate for acceptance into camp programs:
- Individuals who are abusive to self, others or property
- Individuals with a history of “running off”
- Physical or sexual aggression
- Individuals who do not sleep through the night, may wander at night or who require routine assistance through the night (frequent toileting, turning, etc.)
Failure to communicate any of the above behaviors/needs may jeopardize the safety of the applicant as well as others at camp. Individuals whose needs and/or behavioral challenges are beyond the scope of the camp to safely accommodate will be sent home immediately.
Acceptance will be determined based on overall camper care required and staff ability to meet individual needs in a safe and appropriate manner.
How are camp staff selected and trained?
Click here for information on our staff, including recruitment, selection and training.
What does a typical day at camp look like?
Here’s a sample schedule for a typical day at Camp Paivika during the summer:
8 am Dressing, bathing and preparing for the day
9 am Breakfast
9:45 am Cabin clean‐up, teeth‐brushing, sunscreen application
10:30 am Activities
11:30 am Early Eaters
12:30 pm Lunch
1:30 pm Rest Period (quiet activities and naps in cabins)
3:45 pm Activities
4:45 pm Activities
5:30 pm “All Camp Activity”
6 pm Dinner
6:45 pm Evening Program preparation
7:15 pm Evening Program
8:45 pm Bedtime preparation
9:30 pm Cabin quiet time and lights out
Can I visit my camper while he/she is at camp?
Families may visit whenever they like. However, we do encourage families to allow their camper to experience the camp program independently so as to enhance their social experience. Families may call to check in on their camper whenever they like
What can I do to help make my camper’s first visit to Camp Paivika a success?
Transitioning into new experiences can be a challenge for all of us. At Camp Paivika, we have several opportunities to help with this:
- You may call to schedule a personal tour and visit to Camp Paivika with our Camp Director.
- We offer a Mom’s Retreat weekend in April to women who are raising and/or caring for loved ones with special needs. This is a great way to learn more about us and talk to other moms whose children attend our programs.
- Our Open House takes place in June of each year and is our official kickoff for the summer season. This day is fun for the whole family and is designed for first time campers and their families, although all are welcome. In addition to a BBQ lunch and fun traditional camp activities, our Camp Director gives an orientation and answers all questions. The day ends with the opportunity to take a tour of the camp. Seasonal summer staff are also in attendance during this day so you have the opportunity to meet all of our amazing summer staff!
If you have done all of this, your camper (and you!) should be ready for a session at Camp Paivika. Please be sure that your camper has had a successful overnight experience away from you prior to sending them for a full session at camp. Remember, we all want this to be a positive and successful experience for you and your camper.
What if my camper does not like camp or becomes homesick?
Camp can be an overwhelming transition for many first time campers. If your camper is homesick or unhappy we will call to speak with you about the situation. We will ask you for guidance on how to support your camper so that they can get through the initial transition of camp and hopefully remain for the full session. If a camper becomes overly agitated, attempts to run off, or refuses to eat, drink or take prescribed medications, we may decide that it is in the best interest of the camper to not remain at camp. We will be in communication with you throughout the process as our goal is for each camper to have a positive experience at Camp Paivika.
How do the families of campers with disabilities benefit from Camp Paivika?
As campers enjoy their Paivika experience, families can take a respite from the rigors and challenges of providing 24/7 care, knowing that their disabled loved ones are safe, cared for and occupied with a full slate of fun. In addition, since many of our campers are away from parents and home for the first time, the Camp Paivika staff responds with sensitivity, encouragement and support to help both campers and their families succeed in making this very important transition.
Is the quality of the camp recognized by a third party?
Camp Paivika is fully accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). ACA has verified that Camp Paivika provides sound risk management training and ongoing program assessment and improvement with staff. We also encourage families to visit www.campparents.org for expert advice and resources on camper safety and preparing for the camp experience.
What does the application process entail?
We encourage you to register for camp directly through our website. Please contact us if you need assistance with this process. All forms must be completed and returned to us to complete your registration. A non-refundable deposit is required when you register for camp. First time campers will receive a follow up phone call from our Program Director to review the application and care needs of each camper and to answer any questions. The camp fee may be paid in installments, but must be paid in full prior to camp arrival.
What are the camp fees? Is financial assistance available?
Please visit the Registration section to see the current Camp session schedule along with related costs and information on financial assistance.
Is the camp available for rental for retreats and other special events?
Yes, from January through May. Click here for more information.
What is employment like at Camp Paivika, and what opportunities are available?
Employment at Camp Paivika offers an exceptional, often life-changing experience. We look for dynamic adults with a love of the outdoors and a sincere interest in working with special needs people.
Hiring for our summer session begins in the fall of the previous year and continues until positions are filled. In addition to professional staff, we recruit from among college students, age 18 and older, across the country.
References are thoroughly checked. All potential employees must pass a criminal background check and pre-employment drug screen. New employees receive six days of intensive training. Staff members live on site while camp is in session and many become regulars, developing strong bonds with returning campers over the years.
Click here to view current Camp openings on AbilityFirst’s website.
How do volunteers contribute to the camp experience, and how can I apply to volunteer?
Enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers, working under the supervision of staff, help keep our facility running smoothly and become valued members of our Camp Paivika family. Volunteers may provide one-on-one assistance to campers, encourage participation, keep activities going, and of course, have fun! Volunteers are also essential in assisting us with fundraising activities and events. Without people who give of themselves, their time and their talents, we simply would not be able to provide the outstanding programs and services that make such a difference in the lives of children and adults with disabilities.
We accept volunteers through an application and interview process.
Volunteers who stay overnight at camp must be at least 18 years old.