Summer Camp For All

Image Description: A group of campers of all abilities smiling and enjoying their time around the pool.

Image Description: A group of campers of all abilities smiling and enjoying their time around the pool.

We can all fondly remember our summer camp experiences, exploring the outdoors and making memories. Summer camp, a place of adventure, excitement, and growth, is on the agenda for many children with and without disabilities this summer, and there are a multitude of options when it comes to choosing the perfect camp for you or your child.

United Cerebral Palsy’s affiliates around the country offer many different summer camp experiences. United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile’s Camp Smile, one of a handful of camps open to campers regardless of the severity of their disability or their financial means, is a camp exclusively for individuals with disabilities and their siblings. Glenn Harger, President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile, notes that Camp Smile “adapts to a child’s needs, instead of asking children to adapt to the camp.” United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware similarly invites children with and without a variety of disabilities to their two stellar day camps, Camp Lenape and Camp Manito. These camps foster friendships and make it possible for siblings to attend the same camp as children with disabilities. The camps, founded on the idea that children with disabilities are kids first, seek to create an inclusive environment for all children.

Image Description: A camper swimming in the pool with the help of a flotation device and two counselors.

Image Description: A camper swimming in the pool with the help of a flotation device and two counselors.

Camps Smile, Lenape, and Manito, in addition to many others, offer accessible grounds, dietary adjustments, and a greater proportion of camp counselors to campers than traditional camps. For example, Camp Smile makes accessibility a priority with its wheelchair accessible pathways, air conditioned log cabins and multi-purpose buildings, as well as an accessible bath house, among other amenities. Many camps across the nation specialize in specific services for children with disabilities. Some camps offer on-site speech and occupational therapy, teach campers how to ride bikes, focus on art therapy, or specialize in helping children succeed academically. Camps Lenape and Manito offer accessible swimming, with in-pool ramps to accommodate campers of all abilities and plenty of volunteers to help.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of camps which focus on disability is the lasting impact they can have on campers. Glenn recalled a young girl, around the age of four, and the evidence of her growth: “She just never smiled. The counselors put her on a horse and she had the biggest grin on her face.” Research supports the notion that children can benefit significantly from summer camps. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Play found that camps can have positive cognitive, social, and identity effects on campers by combining skill improvement with fun and social activities.

Bill McCool, the Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware, fondly remembers the story of one young camper who had behavioral challenges, but for whom camp had a meaningful impact. The camper returned to UCP of Delaware when he was an adult, completely changed and matured, and applied to be an employee at the camp to help other young children benefit from the summer camp that had changed his life. Moved by this experience, McCool explained: “It means an awful lot when you see your campers become adults and you see who they become, at least in part because of the camp. That’s true for kids with disabilities, children without, and our volunteers. And many of them want to come back here!”

It’s no surprise that campers and volunteers alike look forward to returning to summer camps. At Camp Smile, campers can participate in zip lining, a ropes course, horseback riding, archery, swimming, fishing, and many more fun activities. The camp’s mission? To empower children and adults with disabilities to lead a life without limits.


Wondering if there is a UCP camp near you? Below is a partial list of United Cerebral Palsy affiliates that offer camp experiences.

ADAPT Community Network (New York City)

Easter Seals UCP (North Carolina and Virginia)

Stepping Stones Ohio

UCP of Central California

UCP of Central Florida

UCP Central Minnesota

UCP of Delaware

UCP of Greater Hartford

UCP Heartland (Missouri)

UCP of Hudson County (New Jersey)

UCP Land of Lincoln (Illinois)

UCP of MetroBoston

UCP of Mobile

UCP of Sacramento and Northern California

UCP of San Luis Obispo

UCP of Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties

UCP of Tampa Bay

UCP of the Golden Gate

UCP of the North Bay

UCP of West Alabama

UCP of West Central Wisconsin


This post was written by Sara Shemali, Summer 2017 Programs and Development Intern at UCP National.

United Cerebral Palsy Presents “Awards for Excellence” & Elects New Members to Board of Trustees at 2010 Annual Conference

Washington, DC (June 16, 2010) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), a leading service provider and advocate for children and adults with disabilities, presented its annual Awards for Excellence and elected new members of the Board of Trustees during its 2010 Annual Conference last month in Chicago, Ill. Designed to help improve operational and organizational efficiency, the UCP 2010 Annual Conference theme – Mission Driven Business; Better Together Beyond All Limits – focused on developing business methods and strategies for affiliates to utilize to improve performance and enhance productivity.

Each year, the UCP Awards for Excellence are presented to affiliates, individuals and companies whose exceptional activities, achievements and dedication exemplify the UCP mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through its affiliate network. This year, these awards were presented to 10 recipients at a dinner and presentation during the Annual Conference.

“The 2010 United Cerebral Palsy Awards for Excellence recipients are leaders in creating a life without limits for people with disabilities,” said Stephen Bennett, former President & CEO, United Cerebral Palsy. “We are pleased to recognize affiliates, individuals and companies whose successful performance make our mission a reality by advancing independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities.”

The 2010 Awards for Excellence include:

  • 2010 Kathleen O. Maul Leadership Award was presented to Ron Cohen, CEO of UCP of Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties, for his leadership and strong commitment to UCP. He has led UCP of Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties to be one of the largest developers of affordable housing for adults with disabilities in California. More recently, he acquired UCP Wheels for Humanity (WFH) and had the WFH logo placed on Glee, one of the hottest TV shows airing today.
  • 2010 Chair Award was presented to Tom O’Donnell, for his continued assistance to the Chair and Board throughout the year. Though Tom is currently Chair of the Nominating Committee, he has also served on the board of trustees for UCP of Greater Kansas, and as Chair of the UCP Board of Trustees. He has been an advocate for people with disabilities for four decades, serving as a staff attorney for the National Center of Law and the Handicapped, and advocating the Education for All Handicapped Children Act.
  • 2010 Ritter Legacy Award, was presented to UCP of Central Florida for their Miracles in Action E-Newsletters and their Broadcast Media Video. Their Miracles in Actions E-newsletters are targeted to meet the needs of specific groups including parents, volunteers, supporters and donors. Each letter included timely information tied to a call-to-action that prompted individuals to become additionally involved. Both media sources use the UCP logo and branding standards in exemplary ways to further their advocacy and fundraising goals.
  • 2010 Nina Eaton Program of the Year Award was presented to UCP Land of Lincoln, for their Employment Services program. Their Employment Services include a variety of programs from transition and job-training, supported employment and two independent business operations. The transition program is a year-round comprehensive program designed to foster employment and post secondary education opportunities for youth with disabilities. The supported employment program assists individuals with disabilities in finding jobs and maintaining successful employment in the community.
  • 2010 Outstanding Youth Award was presented to Katie Lightfoot (nominated by UCP of the North Bay) to recognize her as a youth who has significantly enhanced the lives of people with disabilities through caregiving, volunteerism, advocacy, innovation or fundraising. Katie has volunteered at Boost Camp, a UCP of the North Bay summer program for children with physical disabilities, for seven years. She provides hands on support to children in the program, and has also helped create a positive environment with her cheerful and enthusiastic attitude.
  • 2010 Universal Accessibility Design Award was presented to Morgan’s Wonderland, located in San Antonio, Texas to recognize it as the World’s First Ultra Accessible Family Fun Park designed specifically for children and adults with special needs, their family members, caregivers, friends and the entire community. It is a unique oasis that through the spirit of inclusion, allows people of all abilities to play, learn and share life changing experiences together, in a fun and safe environment. Gordon Hartman, president and CEO of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, expressed his appreciation, saying that, “We’re very grateful to UCP for recognizing our team effort in making Morgan’s Wonderland an ultra-accessible park so our guests with special needs can truly have fun with family members, friends and caregivers in a safe, colorful environment.”
  • 2010 Employer of the Year Award was presented to PRIDE Industries (nominated by UCP of Greater Sacramento) for it’s continued service in preparing people with disabilities for employment by providing person-centered training and program supports.
  • 2010 the Public Policy and Advocacy Award was presented to CP of Mobile, for its local advocacy efforts particular to disaster planning and preparation. In light of the way people with disabilities were treated during Hurricane Katrina UCP of Mobile called together representatives from other disability organizations, emergency Management, Public Health, government, Red Cross, local hospitals, and individuals with disabilities to create the Special Needs Shelter Task force to address the lack of safe and accessible emergency shelter choices.
  • 2010 the Ethel Hausman Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to two recipients this year, Jack and Linda Cox Maguire, who both, through volunteering, have made outstanding contributions to UCP. Jack and Linda have been involved with UCP for approximately 20 years through their local affiliate, UCP of MetroBoston, and at the national level. The couple exemplifies the spirit of UCP through their endless philanthropy, relentless advocacy, and time given to support the UCP mission.
  • 2010 Life Without Limits Award was presented to Craig Reinhardt of UCP Arkansas, to recognize an individual with disabilities who has demonstrated leadership and achievement of such a caliber as to be a significant role model to people with and without disabilities. Craig embodies what UCP represents- he has overcome significant physical and speech limitations to become a critical contributor to the work at UCP of Arkansas in his role as Technology Administrator. The things that Craig has done to help UCP of Arkansas meet its mission of advancing the independence, productivity and full citizenship for people with disabilities are way too numerous to list in their entirety, but his ability to be a role model to others with disabilities is immeasurable.

During the awards presentation, individuals who volunteered significant time with UCP affiliates were also recognized as Victory 100 winners. In 2009, these included 335 volunteers from 23 UCP affiliates. Each volunteer dedicated at least 100 hours of service by participating on a board, assisting in fundraising activities, and performing other needed volunteer work. This year the Victory 100 winners volunteered a total of 43,612 hours.

Board of Trustees
UCP also elected new members to its Board of Trustees during the Annual Conference. This included the following additions:


  • Woody Connette, from Charlotte, North Carolina, is an attorney with a strong interest in public policy and litigation related to disabilities, health care and mental health. He serves as Board Chair for Easter Seals/UCP North Carolina and Virginia and has been active with that affiliate approximately nine years. He has also served on the Executive Board and as President of the National Patient Advocate Foundation and has testified in Washington on proposed changes to ERISA regulations governing employee health and disability plans.
  • Dr. Joseph Lee, from Standish, Maine, is the President of Saint Joseph’s College. His background in higher education leadership includes fundraising, strategic planning, financial management, enrollment, marketing, student life and intercollegiate athletics. An active participant in service organizations, President Lee has served on the Board of Trustees for the National Conference for Community and Justice and on the Board of Directors for the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Recently he was named to the Board of Trustees of the World Affairs Council of Maine.
  • Mark Lezotte is a shareholder practicing with the law firm of Hall Render in Troy, Michigan. He has served on the Council of the State Bar of Michigan Business Law Section, is a past co-chair of the State Bar Nonprofit Corporations Committee, and is active in numerous professional and nonprofit organizations. He received the United Cerebral Palsy Association National Chairperson’s Award in 2004.
  • Emilio Pardo, from Washington, DC, is a senior executive with over 18 years of development and management experience with non-profit, corporate and governmental organizations. As EVP & Chief Brand Officer for AARP, he is currently responsible for all creating, coordinating and integrating brand–related plans from across the enterprise.

View the full listing of UCP’s Board of Trustees.

About United Cerebral Palsy
Founded more than 60 years ago by parents of children with cerebral palsy, today United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is a leading service provider and advocate for children and adults with disabilities. The UCP mission is to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network. This includes approximately 100 local service providers reaching more than 176,000 individuals daily in the U.S., Canada, Scotland and Australia. The national office in Washington DC advocates on behalf of individuals with disabilities; advances federal disability public policy (Disability Policy Collaboration); and develops forward-thinking programs like Life Without Limits and My Child Without Limits. For more information, please visit