Recreation Therapy

This summer, the Recreation Therapy department completed its 65th year of medical camping at Bradford Woods. When the first camps began in 1955, the scope was limited to children with diabetes and polio. Today, we’ve made huge advances. Thanks to the generous support of Riley Children’s Foundation, in 2019 Camp Riley served 330 children with a wide range of diagnoses hailing from 64 Indiana counties and 10 states. 340 additional campers were served through our amazing partner camps: Camp Little Red Door, CHAMP Camp, MDA Camp, Camp ROCKS, and Camp PossAbility. 

For each of our campers, Bradford Woods is about enjoying a barrier-free experience and building lifelong relationships. Each year, we hire more than 80 seasonal staff with a variety of backgrounds to ensure camp runs smoothly and to live out our primary philosophies of engaging, empathizing, and empowering.

Counselor and camper smiling happily as they float in the pool with life jackets on.

The Beyond the Woods program, now in its third official year, enjoyed its highest ever attendance in 2019. This program pairs adolescent campers with a physical disability or medical condition with a mentor with similar life experiences. Campers and mentors discuss life issues through regularly scheduled facilitated online meetings, as well as events at Bradford Woods throughout the year. 

In 2019, we continued successful partnerships with IU Underwater Science to provide adapted SCUBA diving and with the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana to provide adapted waterskiing to our Riley 3 and Venture Campers.  A grant from the IU Women’s Philanthropy Council enabled us to partner with IU School of Medicine faculty member Deb Sokol to provide an adapted ballet clinic for Riley 3 campers. Grant funding will also help launch a new Pediatric Brain Tumor family camp this fall.

Tommy Gardner, who has served as the Assistant Director of Medical Camping since 2016, moved into the Interim Director role at the beginning of the summer before taking the position permanently in August. We are thrilled to have Tommy continue on our team and look forward to seeing his leadership in this program area.

Partner Projects

A large wooden ramp leading to the zipline launch.


Thanks to the generous support of CHAMP Camp, which hosts its camp for campers with tracheostomies at Bradford Woods each year, we wereable to complete another phase of our universal zipline project in the summer of 2018: the installation of the access ramp. All campers are now able to access the top of the zipline in universal fashion! 

A young adult in a wheelchair navigates among kayaks at the beach on new accessibility mats.

Camp PossAbility

Camp PossAbility, a camp for adults with physical disabilities, donated new access mats for the beach, making it much easier for campers who use wheelchairs and power chairs to navigate across the sand to our boat area.

Bradford Woods has changed my life forever. When I’m here, it doesn’t feel like reality. I get to do everything I didn’t think was possible.

Kendra H., Venture Camper