Special Needs Camp & Inclusion of All Children

special needs camp

Expanding Friendships at Our Special Needs Camp

Inclusion of Every Child

Our mission is to ensure an appropriate and positive camp experience for children. We welcome campers with special needs and hope you will give Camp James special needs camp your consideration. Every year we have numerous special needs campers that can participate successfully at camp.

Below is some information that may help you in the decision-making process. You are always welcome to call our office to ask questions or discuss options.

Is Camp James special needs camp a good fit for your child?

special needs camp

Our Caring, Professional Staff

Our staff have basic First Aid and CPR training. We do not have on-site medically trained personnel at our special needs camp. Children must be able to feed and toilet independently as well as self–monitor/manage their medical needs (diabetes, and other medically related concerns).

Our staff is ready to help anytime and are all trained professionals. If something bad is to happen at camp, rest assured, our staff will assist and ensure your child is safe and happy.

special needs camp

Our Special Needs Camp Site

Campers will traverse an average of 3-6 miles daily. The special needs camp facility is at the beach, has a lot of sand, and involves going into the bay. While we have shade available, it can get hot. 

We recommend that you get your child used to the idea of moving around a lot. Singing songs is part of our special needs camp culture as well!

Be sure your child is ready to be part of a great team in the wild outdoors!

PARTICIPANT EXPECTATIONS at our special needs camp:

Campers are expected and encouraged to participate in all activities when possible (including non-preferred ones) and to follow our safety rules as well as the directions from our staff. Campers must be able to keep their hands to themselves. This is for their safety and the safety of others at camp. Our staff wishes for all campers to have a positive experience at our special needs camp and have the benefits of participating in our program.

If your child has a history of aggressive, defiant, self-injurious behaviors, or has issues of elopement (wandering or running away) this is not a safe situation in our camp’s high adventure 30-acre environment. Children with behaviors that harm the child themselves, other campers, or the staff members may be expelled from camp.

It is expected that campers participate in most activities whenever possible. Sitting out of activities consistently (non-participation) may require a phone call home to discuss whether our special needs camp is a good fit for the child.

Destruction of our special needs camp property by a camper needs to be paid for by the parent of the child. If a child needs to be picked up for behavior concerns, a parent/guardian is expected to pick up the child within 30 minutes of the phone call from the directors.

To be a camper at Camp James special needs camp without parental support, a child must be able to feed, dress, and use the bathroom on their own. In addition, children must be able to be in a group setting, transition from one location to another, and follow directions. Campers must be able to participate safely for themselves, their peers, and the camp leadership. If your child runs away, will not move during transitions, will not stay with the group, and behaves in a harmful manner (towards self or others) parents will be asked to pick up their camper. Referrals to more appropriate programs and refunds (for unused tuition) will be made in these circumstances. If our camp doesn't work with your child's needs, we are hoping to help you find a better fit. We have been in the business for 35 years and know of many established camps in the OC.


For some campers, they may need full-time professional aide support. Camp James does not have medical professionals on staff. If your child has an aide at school, they may likely need one for camp as well to create a successful experience.

Some parents may see the need to provide a trained and certified Aide/ABA Therapist for their child. Parents and siblings are not allowed to provide aide support. Bringing your own professional aide support to special needs camp requires some advance paperwork from the agency and parent. If you provide professional aide support it must be from an agency in which insurance and other requirements need to be met.

Please review this link or contact our office for details about providing your own aide support. 

special needs camp
special needs camp

Teen Buddies

Teen Buddies are for campers who have a special needs diagnosis only. A Teen Buddy, is a high school student in our Camper In Leadership Training Program (CILT) who has no formal/extensive training, but has a big heart, big smile, and wishes to help kids who might need just a little extra support when they get to our special needs camp.

Requesting this free additional support is done on the health form during registration. For new families, please reach out to our office prior to registering so we can discuss your child’s needs and see if this might be a support that will make their time at camp a positive and successful experience!


  • Teen Buddy requests are only for campers attending at least 2 weeks.  
  • Teen Buddy support is not available for the last 2 weeks of camp (August dates) due to teens returning to school.
  • Teen Buddy support is from 9:45 am-3:30 pm only.
  • The Teen Buddy form must be completed prior to May 1st of each summer.
  • After the 2 weeks with a Teen Buddy, campers that the staff/directors feel can safely attend camp without additional support may continue.

Not a Fit? We Can Recommend You Another Special Needs Camp!

Just because our special needs camp may not be a good fit this summer for your child, does not mean there isn’t a great summer camp perfect for your child. Being an ACA Accredited camp, we’re plugged into a network of similar camps that might be a better match for your happy camper. Check out www.acacamps.org or call us so we can help you find a camp that may meet your child’s needs better.

orange county kids camp