What is CAMP Chicago?
CAMP Chicago (formerly CAMP Schwab) was developed by Dr Lisa Thornton and her staff at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital in 2003 to provide athletic and cultural experiences to children with disabilities in a highly affirming environment that is adapted to allow them to fully participate. CAMP provides a week-long summer day camp and weekend activities through the year. The letters in CAMP stand for Children with Adapted Mobility Play.
The idea for CAMP developed in response to many patients expressing the desire to “be like Mike” during the glory days of the Chicago Bulls basketball team. Dr Thornton realized that her patients who had significant mobility limitations had very few opportunities to participate in basketball or other athletic activities. Adapted sports were difficult to find and many parents did not have a vehicle to transport their child in a wheelchair to activities.
Dr Thornton and her staff decided that there was a need for a summer camp where every child can participate and explore his or her athletic aspirations in a highly affirming, fully accessible environment. CAMP runs entirely on donations and is free of charge to the campers. It includes the critical benefit of door-to-door, wheelchair accessible transportation.
Through the years campers have been involved in kayaking, cycling, horseback riding, rock climbing, sailing, swimming, golf, basketball and many other sports. They have also visited many of Chicago’s great cultural venues like the Field Museum, The Adler Planetarium, The Shedd Aquarium, The Art Institute, and the Museum of Science and Industry.
In addition to providing an opportunity for campers, we have also developed a large volunteer corps where scores of high school students and young adults come together to help the campers fully participate. Many volunteers return year after year. The volunteers agree that CAMP helps to de-stigmatize children with mobility limitations and some volunteers have even been inspired to enter professions that involve children with disabilities.