Summer and weekend programs at Camp Aldersgate create life-changing experiences that enable all young people to expand their world and give them opportunities to express their unique voice.

“We provide adaptive programming designed with no barriers for individuals with special needs to experience camaraderie, connection and engagement, just like their everyday peers,” says CEO Sonya Murphy.

In addition to diagnosis-specific camps for people with special needs, there are two week-long KOTA Camps for children with and without disabilities. These allow children with a wide range of conditions and their friends or siblings without disabilities to enjoy traditional camp activities together in a residential camp setting.

Health agencies, partners and individual donors support room and board for many campers, and most campers attend for free or pay just a fraction of the cost to attend. “…No family is ever turned away for financial reasons…,” says Murphy.

Special Family asked Murphy about what campers can look forward to in 2021:

What changes have you made due to COVID-19?

Although precautionary measures concerning COVID-19 resulted in the suspension of all 2020 on-site events, CA remained committed to providing campers with innovative and engaging activities that promote positive social, emotional, physical and cognitive health. The needs of our special community had not changed, therefore, closing and/or canceling services was not an option.

We launched our first ever Virtual Camp session during the first week of summer as an alternative opportunity for togetherness. … This was crucial for the well-being of our campers during a pandemic, as options for ordinary activities, camps and programming that are enabling for children with special needs can be limited.

Sessions were met with weekly success as our team mailed and delivered almost 300 supply boxes to over 35 counties in five different states — thus, allowing campers to safely gather around the virtual campfire with new and old friends.

What can LRF readers get excited about for CA in 2021?

Virtual Programming: One of the biggest takeaways we learned this summer was the need for a virtual component integrated into our programming efforts. For the first time, we were able to conveniently cater to families with children who would have been otherwise unable to attend in-person — even some of our campers temporarily hospitalized were able to participate.

On-site Programming: The question that everyone’s been asking and the news that we are thrilled to finally share! We … can’t wait to reopen our gates to welcome campers, new and old, to attend one of our Residential Camp or Day Camp sessions we anticipate offering later this year.

We are fervently working to safely bring our campers back on-site and have truly missed seeing their smiling faces in-person.

For more information and the latest updates on virtual or in-person programs, visit or call 501-225-1444. CA welcomes parents for safe, socially-distanced facility tours to learn more.

Heather Honaker is circus ringleader for three kids 4 and under — two typical, one not, but they all think they are special. You can follow along as the messiness unfolds around her family by reading the Typically Not Typical blog.