Pine Tree Camp stands alone when it comes to nature and nature-based recreation for people with disabilities. This uniqueness earned the camp a 2019 Movement Grant from the Quimby Family Foundation.
“We fund camps that provide a really unique experience,” said Hannah Quimby, executive director of the Quimby Family Foundation. “Pine Tree Camp is designed for kids and adults with disabilities to experience nature. It’s such a beautiful spot and it was really wonderful to see their passion for the work they’re doing.”
Pine Tree Camp is Maine’s only American Camp Association accredited camp exclusively serving people with disabilities. The camp’s 285-acre barrier-free campus is designed to provide the ultimate level of access, allowing Mainer’s with disabilities maximum independence.
“It’s easy to take for granted the ability to take a walk in the woods, swim in cool water on a hot summer day or enjoy a paddle across the lake,” noted Noel Sullivan, president and CEO of Pine Tree Society. “These things are so simple and make a big difference in an individual’s quality of life. But, for people with disabilities, there are significant barriers to participating in those simple joys.”
Pine Tree Camp’s founders were visionaries. They identified these challenges and opened Pine Tree Camp in 1945. They shared a vision of the critical importance of recreation and access to the outdoors as essential to the well-being of children with disabilities. Today, Pine Tree Camp offers a full range of outdoor recreational opportunities including kayaking, swimming, exploring the woods on a network of nature trails, fishing, a challenge ropes course, a fully accessible tree house, gardening and sleeping under the stars in a real tent.
The independence, friendships and confidence gained at Pine Tree Camp has a positive impact in the lives of campers and their families that extends long after summer is over. In fact, people who attended Pine Tree Camp as a child report that the impact of the experience was profound, altering the trajectory of their life’s path. Pine Tree Camp credits that to the unique combination of immersing in nature, complete access to nature-based recreation and the opportunity to develop friendships. While these sound like every day experiences, for people with disabilities these activities are anything but typical. Thanks to the Quimby Family Foundation, the lives of Maine people with disabilities will continue to be transformed.