JA Camps

Resident Camp Parents

We are excited you’re considering sending your child to a JA camp! We want to assist you in preparing your child for a wonderful experience. Getting ready for camp is an important part of your child’s overall camp experience. This preparation time is an opportunity to build excitement for camp and answer questions you may have.

We hope camp will open your child’s eyes to a whole new world. They will get to try new activities, learn how to manage their juvenile arthritis and meet new friends. It’s the one place where a child doesn’t have to explain what it’s like living with arthritis, because everyone knows. Attending a family camp? Learn more here. 

What to expect when you send your child to camp:

  • Our juvenile arthritis resident camps are medically supervised by pediatric rheumatologists, rheumatology nurses, mental health professionals or other healthcare professionals who are available on-site, 24 hours a day. 
  • Counselors, who often times live with juvenile arthritis and other childhood rheumatic diseases themselves, will look after your child day and night
  • Your child will grow while at camp, in unexpected and wonderful ways.
  • Your child will try some different, amazing activities.
  • Your child will make lifelong friends who also live with childhood rheumatic disease.

Essential Elegibility Criteria:

Children who attend an Arthritis Foundation JA Camp must meet certain criteria in order to participate. Eligible applicants must:

  • Have a doctor diagnosed childhood rheumatic disease
  • Display behaviors at home and school that allow them to function in an overnight group setting in a way that does not negatively affect other group members (no biting, kicking, displays of defiant behavior, running away, etc.)
  • Be predominantly independent (bathing, dressing, toileting, sleeping through the night, eating, etc.)
  • If the child has a mental health condition, it must have been managed under medical supervision for at least 6 months prior to start of camp start date.
  • If campers have a comorbidity (epilepsy, diabetes, etc.), it must be managed under medical supervision for the at least the last 6 months.
  • Have a desire to participate in daily camp activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, etc.
  • Be comfortable with supervision from adults they are unfamiliar with (for example, volunteer counselors)

Our juvenile arthritis resident camps are medically supervised by pediatric rheumatologists, rheumatology nurses or other healthcare professionals who are available on-site, 24 hours a day. Our medical team has expertise in rheumatology but not other medical or mental health conditions.  Please provide the most detailed information about your child while filling out this application so we can provide a safe environment for your child.  If your child has additional or special needs while at camp, please call us so we can ensure our camp team can safely care for your child. If your child is not eligible, please consider camps that might be a better fit. Our staff are happy to help recommend an alternative program for your child.

Camp Activities

Activities vary by camp and age - some activities may include swimming, high and low ropes course, arts and crafts, fishing and more! Activities may even include things like a campfire or a dance. All the activities are a blast!

Goals of Camp 

Everything we do at camp is done intentionally, and for the benefit of kids with juvenile arthritis and other childhood rheumatic disease. It is our hope that at camp, campers will:

  • Gain a greater understanding of their own diagnosis and treatment 
  • Develop peer-to-peer support
  • Increase independence and self-confidence 
  • Discover new skills and interests 
  • Develop the skills they need to be leaders, advocates and champions in their everyday lives.

“ My daughter returns from camp happier than she is all year. Camp really builds her
self-confidence! She has made HUGE strides in advocating for her own
health issues and needs, both at school and to her numerous specialists.”
- JA Parent

Parent Testimonial

"We are truly thankful to the Arthritis Foundation for the opportunity Rhiannon had by going to camp. It has changed her life forever."

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