Summer Camp on a Mission


Why We Do What We do

One of the most consistent quality of life research findings is that both children and adults with diverse abilities report lower quality of life compared to individuals without diverse abilities. This holds true both on self-report and parent-report measures.

It is also consistently found that individuals with diverse abilities tend to live 15-20 years shorter than typically developing peers and, very often, this decrease in longevity of life has nothing to do with the specific diagnosis of the individual.

What is interesting is both of these findings came down to, essentially, the same three core factors:

  1. Lack of social integration/community engagement

  2. Sedentary lifestyle

  3. Lack of access to meaningful employment/engagement

People with diverse abilities are living shorter, lower quality lives and in most cases IT HAS ALMOST NOTHING TO DO WITH THEIR SPECIFIC DIAGNOSIS.

We recognize the huge difficulties in overcoming these three core factors.

  • People with diverse abilities have less opportunities for meaningful employment than typically developing peers.

  • Adult day treatment services are expensive, often have long wait lists, and deliver inconsistent results.

  • Society has largely not been set up so that people with diverse abilities are easily integrated in day to day life.

However, day treatment services and employment are not the only solutions to this problem. In fact, we would posit they are not even the best solutions to this problem.

We believe recreation is the best solution to this problem; specifically, community based recreation participation.

Innately, community based recreation fosters social integration and community engagement, it naturally combats a sedentary lifestyle, and provides meaningful engagement in an activity that mimics, and often exceeds, that of the meaning found in employment.

We recognize there are no silver bullets, and we aren’t claiming recreation as a silver bullet. But, we so believe there are solutions. And we believe that community based recreation participation for individuals with diverse abilities can be a solution to longer lifespans and increased quality of life in the campers we serve.

How We Do What We Do

The Camp Acacia Model is based on years of recreational therapy research incorporating cutting edge findings from learning/education research, social network analysis, positive psychology, social psychology, and applied behavior analysis.

Our model begins with our summer camps. We use the time at camp to teach recreation skills in a safe environment specifically designed to meet the social, emotional, physical, and learning needs of our campers.

We then used community based recreation opportunities to create a bridge from what is taught at camp to the community. We do this through Acacia Explore and Acacia Engage.

Then, as our campers graduate out of our therapeutic summer camps, we create for them, and help implement if wanted/needed, a community engagement plan. The plan is based on the recreation activities that the camper most loved at Camp Acacia. This plan is designed to help campers truly engage in their recreation activity in the community at the highest degree of independence functionally possible for the individual.

This comprehensive model allows for us to teach all aspects of participation, not just the hard skills. We get to incorporate using public transportation, money skills, navigating the community, and so much more.


Where We Do What We Do

Camp Acacia is located in beautiful Northwest Arkansas.

Our camp ground is in Gentry, Arkansas and is fully accessible and includes mountain biking trails, a swimming pool, a universally accessible high and low ropes course, and much more.

You can learn more about our facilities and our accessibility by clicking here.