Our Story

Welcome to CHAMP Camp . . . a place of discovery, growth, and independence . . . where no one sits on the sidelines and no one worries about being different.

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We are a camp for children and adolescents, ages 6 to 18, who have tracheostomies and those who require respiratory assistance, including the use of ventilators. Many of our campers also have unique physical challenges, including quadriplegia.

Our days are rich with adventure and experience. CHAMP Camp is held for a week, typically near the end of June. We are currently housed at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, Indiana, just south of Indianapolis. Prior to the campers’ arrival, counselors spend two days in orientation and team building. Traditional activities such as fishing, pontoon boating, canoeing, creative arts, swimming, and zip lining are highlights of the week. The 50-foot alpine tower promises an exciting climb. Each evening we have an inclusive all-camp program, which may be a talent show, dance, cookout, or campfire! Presently, plans are underway to add a state-of-the-art accessible ramp and tree house to our  “can-do”  program.

CHAMP Camp counselors are comprised of many different people including health care professionals who at camp are friends and mentors. They listen, play, laugh, and know how to create and recognize magic moments. They are talented in many ways beyond their clinical skills . . . they can compose songs, initiate a hike through the woods, recognize the hoot of an owl, cheerlead at new achievements, and bait a fishing line. They live in the cabins with the campers to monitor and provide medical interventions round the clock. We staff 2.5 counselors for every camper guaranteeing a good mix of caring and sharing. We make a considerable effort not to “smother” or  “hover”  over our enthusiastic participants, and within safe bounds, CHAMP Campers have the freedom to explore the many facets of the outdoor environment. Seventy-five percent of our counselors are nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, child life specialists, teachers, recreation professionals, and physicians. Other devoted volunteers include university students majoring in a health care discipline, as well as rehabilitation specialists who assist with equipment and technical, logistical support.

CHAMP Camp is a community  where victories, big and small, are celebrated. Campers build faith in themselves and trust in others . . . and it’s here where grand accomplishments happen because of imagination and motivation.

Each family is asked to contribute to the cost of camp, but no one is turned away for inability to pay.

We have been happily hosting campers and counselors since 1991 from over 15 states.

CHAMP Camp Mission

CHAMP Camp provides a summer camp experience for children and adolescents with tracheostomies and those who require technological respiratory assistance. Our campers enjoy and fully participate in outdoor summer camp activities including swimming, canoeing and climbing that encourage independence, confidence, and self-esteem to create memories that last a lifetime.

CHAMP Camp Philosophy

CHAMP Camp is not only a physical place, but a community where children who are technologically-assisted experience the wonder, beauty and challenge of the outdoors. It is a community where campers and counselors think of each other first; giving and receiving from each other; and supporting and respecting each other in our feelings and experiences.

It is a community where health care professionals become counselors, modeling their love of the experience; allowing kids to be kids; and making medical arrangements as to not compromise the adventure and enjoyment of camp.

It is a community rich with personal expression, individual diversity, and opportunities to grow and succeed physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and socially, and  “discover one’s place in the sun.”

Camp History

CHAMP Camp, Inc. had its beginnings in early 1991 when David Carter, a hospital administrator with a respiratory therapy background; and Nancy McCurdy, a child life specialist, had a vision of providing a summer overnight camping experience for children with tracheostomies and those requiring technological and ventilator assistance.

Working in a pediatric rehabilitation hospital setting, they were involved with children on a daily basis whose lives were being touched and changed by the advances in medical science — many of whom had a diagnosis of quadriplegia — and now felt an ethical responsibility to make sure these young lives had opportunities to experience and enjoy life. Because of the medical fragility and vulnerability associated with “living” on a ventilator and the necessity for round-the-clock supervision and care, these children were not able to participate in other camping programs. Nevertheless, David and Nancy were determined to make the outdoors accessible to these potential campers. Research showed that there were only a handful of other camps in the country serving this target population. A Steering Committee began meeting in May 1991 to accomplish this mission, a Board of Directors was named, and CHAMP Camp received its incorporated status from the State of Indiana in August of that year. We established a nonprofit, 501c3 status with the Internal Revenue Service, and contributors may make tax-deductable donations.

For many years, CHAMP Camp’s “home” was at Recreation Unlimited in Ashley, Ohio. In 2011, CHAMP Camp relocated to Bradford Woods, a nationally recognized facility for outdoor education and therapeutic recreation, owned by Indiana University.