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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


Special Needs Camp

“4-H is for everyone,” but sometimes accessibility issues deny youth with disabilities the opportunity to attend camp. In Ohio, a statewide 4-H camp is held at Canter’s Cave 4-H Camp in Jackson, Ohio for young people with disabilities and their caregivers.  Being a typical kid is what Camp is all about and it is no different for special needs youth. Our goal is to give Campers a true experience of Camp while meeting their needs and letting them set their own pace for fun and success!

Special needs youth need the availability of a camp which can accommodate their varying medical, physical and emotional needs.  Ohio 4-H Special Needs Camp is designed with special needs youth in mind and is tailored to their needs.  It gives youth a chance to try new things in a safe environment while building relationships.  When campers and caregivers were asked about the Camp, 100% of those surveyed stated that they want to return next year and one caregiver stated, “Everyone helps all the kids have a great time.  No one is left out.”  Campers feel the same way – one Camper listed their favorite memory as, “Seeing all of the kids, staff, counselors & parents.”

The Camp allows youth to actively participate in activities such as environmental science, crafts, music therapy, outdoor education, aquatic skills, and self-reliability.  The youth, along with their caregivers, enjoy 2 nights and 2 days of a camping experience that may not have been available otherwise through 4-H.

With events like Camp, there are always many hands working behind the scenes to ensure that things happen.  Volunteer counselors and Staff go out of their way to rearrange Camp to prepare for our Campers, parents and caregivers. Returning families are always willing to help new families find where they need to be and we are grateful of the outpouring of community support for our Camp!  Thanks to the generous support of the Ohio 4-H Foundation, costs are kept to a minimum and Campers are exposed to experiences including archery, music, crafts, nature, campfire and even horseback riding.  New in 2015, thanks to support from the South Central Power Company Foundation, Canter’s Cave 4-H Camp was able to purchase several motorized paddleboats, which allowed Campers the chance to take aquatic science to a whole new level while they explored Engle Lake with the help of dedicated Staff & Counselors!  More than half of the Campers had never been on a boat, and as one Camper stated, “Boating helps you be calm and learn to take charge as the captain of your boat.  You have to learn to be a good leader as a captain and I want to be that one day!”