Summer Camps in Park City for Children with Special Needs

Posted by Karin on June 4, 2012

p7145025 (p7145025)

My youngest daughter has special needs and finding activities that she can participate in can be really challenging. Last winter we were introduced to the National Ability Center (NAC) in Park City, where she had the opportunity to ski, horseback ride and climb a rock wall.  It was so liberating to watch her enjoy these activities, and the staff at the NAC was very impressive.

"Their motto is “all ages, all abilities” and they live by that."

The NAC is located on a 26-acre ranch with almost 20 activities year round that are completely accessible. Their goal is to help individuals and families incorporate these activities into their lives, encouraging independence, confidence and building relationships. Their motto is “all ages, all abilities” and they live by that. The NAC also runs summer camps for kids of all abilities: Camp Giddy Up and Discovery Camps.

Camp Giddy Up

Camp Giddy Up is a series of day and overnight adventures teaching horsemanship. The sessions are designed in a progression over consecutive weeks so that the kids can build on learned skills if they choose to attend multiple times.  Camps range from introductory, to trail rides and overnight experiences, where participants learn more advanced techniques and have sole responsibility for the care of their horse.

First-Time Riders Day Camp (ages 8 & up)
Introduction to horse care, horsemanship. By the end of the week campers will ride a horse by themselves through a challenging course.

Novice Day Camp (ages 8 & up)
Focusing on basic horsemanship, horse care and introductory riding skills and more challenging ground work.

2-Week Intermediate Day Camp (ages 8 & up)
In addition to horsemanship and horse care, campers will learn to trail ride using more complicated riding and problem-solving skills.

Overnight Camp (ages 8 & up)
Campers are responsible for the full-time care of their horse during this 3-day, 2-night adventure. They will also learn different riding styles and skills.

Intermediate/Advanced Camp (ages 8 & up)
Riders will learn more advanced skills, horse care and ground work, including pony cart driving.

Trails Overnight Camp (ages 8 & up)
Focusing on the challenging conditions of trail riding, campers will learn skills to navigate obstacles and take daily rides on trails around the NAC. By the end of the camp they will participate in loading and unloading horses from horse trailers for a day-long off-site trail ride.


Discovery Camps

A day at a Discovery Camp involves activities like rock wall climbing, horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, arts and crafts, and camp games.  The goal is for kids of all abilities to have a true summer camp experience. As Tracy Meier, Discovery Camp Director explains, “Children with special needs have lots of therapies. Discovery Camps are about the summer camp experience as recreation; making new friends, experiencing new activities and having fun.”  Each camp session has between 6-10 kids with 3-4 camp counselors.  The camps are broken down by general ability to provide the best environment for the participants.

Introduction to Camp (ages 6-8) 2 and 3-day camps available
For those kids ready to try camp for the first time.
Day camp designed for kids on the Autism Spectrum.
Day camp designed for kids with Cognitive/Developmental disabilities.
Day camp designed for kids with physical disabilities.
Siblings Camp (ages 8-15)
New this year.  This day camp is a great opportunity for sibling bonding. One sibling will join the camper in all activities for 3 days of fun.

Overnight Crusaders (ages 15-24)
An overnight camp designed for participants with Cognitive/Developmental disabilities.

Camp X-Treme!
An overnight camp created specially for teens and young adults with physical disabilities.


What to Expect

Before camp starts the National Ability Center will contact you to discuss your camper’s needs so they have the information to provide a great experience.  Special needs kids have a wide range of abilities, the attitude of the NAC is not if your child can participate, but how they can make it happen. If you have any questions about how your child can participate, contact the NAC and discuss your concerns.  Please note, personal care is not provided, so if your camper needs help with eating, toileting, or changing clothes, you’ll need to arrange an assistant or caretaker. Contact Tracy Meier to work this out in advance.


Find out more or register your camper:

Camp Giddy Up
Abby Ferrin
435.649.3991 x617

Discovery Camps
Tracy Meier
435.649.3991 x605

If you live locally, the NAC is hosting two open houses where you can find out more about Discovery Camps June 6th - 4:30PM to 6:00PM and July 11th - 4:30PM to 6:00PM.


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Comment posted by Kristen on June 6, 2012 8:11 PM MDT

Thanks for sharing, Karin. I'm going to pass along to some families I know could benefit greatly from this info. The NAC is amazing!

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