For parents who have not yet had a summer camp experience for their family member, sending your loved one to sleep-away camp for the first time can be an anxiety-provoking and exhausting process.
Read our FAQs for answers to your questions.
The great advantages of our camps are:
- We offer a balance of structure and freedom. Sleep-away camp gives your family member some freedom and a break from regular visits to doctors and therapists. Structured activities and a daily routine encourage positive practices even outside of the camp.
- We provide activity and exercise. Many activities improve problem-solving and communication skills. Sports and other physical activities encourage movement and increased activity. Few special needs children get the chance to regularly engage in sports and related activities.
- Campers are provided with opportunities to develop friendships and to learn appropriate social interaction. Our camps give them the chance for appropriate and enjoyable experiences with their peers.
- Parents get a break. We know parenting a child with a developmental disability has its challenges! Camp gives you some time alone to rest!
We encourage that you talk to other parents who have successfully sent their child to our camps, these testimonials can help reassure you and we are happy to make these connections for you, please ask the camp directors for information or check out our Family Testimonials page.
Where is camp?
Both camps are about 2½ hours outside of the city, in upstate New York. Camp Anne is located by the Berkshire mountains in Ancramdale. The Katy Isaacson Elaine Gordon Lodge is in East Jewett, nestled in the Catskill mountains.
What happens if my child becomes homesick?
Homesickness is a normal part of the camp experience, and occurs typically during rest period, before bed, on a difficult day, or when a child is sick. We train our staff thoroughly to spot and help our campers to cope with homesickness. Our preferred strategy is to distract campers with activities that are so much fun, they forget to miss home! If we encounter a situation does not improve, we call home to discuss the situation with you.
Can I visit camp?
There will be an open house for all new families to visit camp. If you are sending a family member to camp for the first time, we recommend that you attend our open house.
Open House is open to new parents/caregivers wanting the opportunity to get an update for the camp season, and to meet the Director of Camping and Recreation, Camp Director, Assistant Camp Director, Nursing Supervisor, and other senior staff. We will help you prepare for camp by offering essential information about all aspects of camp life. It’s a great time to ask any questions that you may have and meet other parents who are sending their family member to camp for the first time, or who have sent their family member to camp for years.
Who are the staff?
Our staff are mature, enthusiastic, diverse, and most importantly, very caring! We always try to have at least 25-35% of our best staff returning from the previous year. All the new staff are carefully screened before they are hired. They must be at least 18 years old.
Most counselors who are hired have at least one year of college training and experience working with people with developmental disabilities. Many of our staff come from abroad, from countries such as England, Holland, Australia, and Ireland, and must speak and understand the English language.
Our senior staff have many years of experience working at our camps. They consist of the Camp Director, Assistant Camp Director, Unit Coordinators, (who oversee our large counseling staff,) Cabin Leaders, Head Lifeguard, Nursing Supervisor, Program Coordinator, Office Manager, Head Chef, and Head of Maintenance. Additionally, our camp employs certified lifeguards, program specialists, nurses, cooks and dining hall staff, and other trained staff to make the stay of each camper comfortable, safe and fun.
All staff participate in a rigorous 7-day training prior to the arrival of campers.
What’s the sleeping accommodation?
At the Katy Isaacson Elaine Gordon Lodge, there are 15-18 guests and 6-8 staff in each lodge – a maximum of 24 people per lodge. There are 5 lodges in total. Each lodge is divided into 2 sleeping areas with a shared bathroom, (3 toilets and 3 showers). The lodges are designed for persons who have difficulty walking or who use a wheelchair. These lodges are located near activity areas and are equipped with ramps and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.
Camp Anne has 8 cabins for the campers and their counselors. Each cabin is air-conditioned and fits approximately 15 people. Each cabin has 3 showers and 3 toilets. Campers are provided with a cabin that suits his or her abilities and/or medical condition. All cabins are designed for persons who have difficulty walking or who use a wheelchair.
What’s the food like?
We provide 3 nutritious meals a day, and a morning and afternoon snack. We serve family-style meals, in which the counselors sit with their campers at all times, assisting with serving food (as necessary).
If a camper has a special diet or food allergies, it is critical that our Health Center have that information highlighted on the camper’s health form. We have a cook whose sole responsibility is to prepare special diet meals.
What activities are offered?
Daily activities include arts and crafts, games and sports, swimming in the pool, boating or fishing at the lake, music, dance, pony rides and exercise. Each evening, everyone participates in a variety of camp programs, including talent shows, games, contests, theatrical activities, and dances. On the last night of camp, everyone dresses up and attends a special banquet dinner and show.
Our programs are designed to suit many different levels of ability, and staff makes sure that everyone is engaged in the activity for as long as the camper is comfortable. All campers will find programs available for them. We also have a sensory room and a relaxation area.
How is medical care handled?
Our Health Center is staffed with professional, licensed nurses 24 hours a day. The Health Center is equipped to handle routine and urgent care. Our qualified nursing staff is prepared to provide care for short-term illnesses and first aid care for minor injuries. We contract with a local physician who is familiar with our campers and their special needs. The doctor is available 24 hours a day, and will see a sick camper on camp grounds. In an emergency, local ambulance services will transport a sick or injured camper to a hospital located 20-25 minutes from each camp.
Here are some other important procedures that we strictly adhere to:
- All medications are stored securely in the Health Center. No one, including staff, may keep medications in the camper cabins.
- Only licensed nurses may administer medications.
- Nurses only administer medications as written by a doctor.
- Our nurses’ document and sign for every medication dose given.
- Nurses may not administer a medication if the label is not clear, or if the label has expired.
- All narcotic substances or controlled drugs are double locked.
How do I know that my child will be safe?
Safety is the first priority of our camps! We work closely with the following agencies and strictly adhere to all health and safety codes:
- The New York State Department of Health
- The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
- The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities
Both our camps are accredited by the American Camp Association. This national program educates camps in the administration of key camp operations, particularly those related to health and safety.
The New York State Department of Health requires that we have a written safety plan that addresses many important areas for operating a safe camp, such as our procedures for hiring and training staff, supervision of campers, and camp site hazards and emergencies. This is available for your review upon request.
The Department of Health also inspects our camps prior to the camp opening, and again while camp is in session. The inspector is particularly concerned with the cleanliness of the kitchen and food handling procedures, safety procedures at the pool and medical area.
How do I apply?
To apply to be a camper at either Camp Anne or the Isaacson Gordon Lodge, please contact our Referral and Information Center at 212-780-4491, or via email. Please visit our employment page if you are interested in camp employment.
How long is camp?
Camp sessions are 11 days and 10 nights.
How much does camp cost?
Camp fees are $2100 per session. For Medicaid Waiver recipients (HCBS Respite), camp fees are $305 per session.
What does the cost of camp cover?
Camp fees cover all food, accommodation, transportation and activities. The Lodge has a camp store which sells t-shirts and memorabilia, and this is optional for guests. If they wish to purchase candy and/or memorabilia, we suggest bringing no more than $20 for an 11 day stay.
What is the level of supervision?
At Camp Anne, campers are placed in cabins according to the level of assistance or supervision they require. Each cabin has a Cabin Leader who supervises the cabin and ensures the safety of each camper. Each cabin has a staffing ratio of 2:1 or 1:1. Counselors accompany campers throughout the day, even during activities and meal times. After campers go to sleep and some of the staff goes on time-off, we always have at least 4 counselors per cabin.
At The Katy Isaacson Elaine Gordon Lodge, each lodge houses a minimum of five General Counselors and a Lodge Leader who supervises, ensuring the safety of each guest. The staff to guest ratio is 1:4 throughout the day, during activities and at meal times. At least one staff member, (usually more,) is always present to ensure the safety of your family member - both day and night.