“If you are looking for the best experience for children and youth who are blind, visually impaired or have multiple disabilities, then join us for Wayfinder’s Camp Bloomfield program this summer! We have incredible sessions planned that emphasize safety, belonging and respect while encouraging independence. Without the distraction of technology, campers will slow down and create real-life social networks while they learn new skills and challenge themselves,” says Mark Lucas, Wayfinder Family Services’ camp and recreational programs manager.
This summer, Wayfinder’s Camp Bloomfield will offer three free sessions at Camp Whittier in Santa Barbara and one special session at Camp Bob Waldorf in Glendale. Sessions will offer traditional camping activities, such as archery, horseback riding, hiking, swimming, rock-climbing wall, ropes challenge course, arts and crafts and much more. These activities will be adapted for all ages and abilities by Wayfinder’s expert recreation staff, led by Lucas. Many of the staff also have vision loss and serve as role models to campers.
The Youth and Teen Session (for ages 7-17 who are visually impaired or have multiple disabilities), Alumni Session (for adults 18+ who are visually impaired) and the Family Camp Session (for children with disabilities plus their family members) will be held at Camp Whittier, a 94-acre camp in Santa Barbara on traditional Chumash land that features rolling hills and oak trees.
A special Inclusion Session at Camp Bob Waldorf, nestled on 112 acres in the Verdugo Hills of Glendale, will be a new collaboration with Jewish Big Brothers of Los Angeles. The partnership will combine 24 children (ages 7-17) who are visually impaired with 100 sighted, low-income youth of the same ages. Wayfinder camp staff and Camp Bob Waldorf staff will team up to create a successful experience for both groups of children. This session will introduce campers with visual impairment to a mainstream summer camp so they can learn to integrate with sighted campers and advocate for themselves in a safe, positive environment. Sighted campers and staff will learn to appreciate the abilities of children with vision loss. Also, campers will develop new skills they can practice in their everyday lives.
Both camp sites are accredited by the American Camp Association, signifying that they meet the high standards for quality, safety and operations. Registration is open for all sessions until June 1st, but space is limited and applications are processed in the order they are received.
This year, Wayfinder Family Services is celebrating 65 years of its Camp Bloomfield program. In 1958, Henry Bloomfield and the Bloomfield Foundation purchased a 40-acre campground in Malibu, California, and donated its use to the organization, so that campers with vision loss could enjoy traditional summer camp experiences, from which they were excluded at the time.
Although the Malibu campsite was destroyed by the Woolsey fire in 2018, the Camp Bloomfield program has operated at rented facilities, or during the first two years of the pandemic, as a virtual camp and day camp. In summer 2022, Camp Bloomfield returned to offering in-person, overnight camp sessions. This summer marks the program’s 65th year of building independence and sparking lifelong friendships.