A camper and counselor pause for a picture while ziplining.

Participants enjoy a previous session of Camp Little Giant. Photo provided.

March 22, 2024

Registration now open for SIU’s acclaimed Camp Little Giant

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Camp Little Giant, one of America’s first camps specifically for people with disabilities, is open for registration now at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center for summer 2024.

The inclusive recreation camp, which launched in 1952, features adaptive equipment and programming to provide an authentic and memorable “can do” summer camp experience for people of varying abilities. The camper to staff ratio is just 4-to-1 for the series of day camp sessions that runs from June 10 to July 26. Participants will enjoy activities such as boating, outdoor cooking, swimming, outdoor recreation and education, swimming, arts and crafts, sports, games, horseback riding, fishing, team building activities and much more. Touch of Nature even has adaptive equipment and modified setups allowing campers to participate in zip lining, the high ropes course, rock climbing, archery and water sports such as paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing. It all happens at Touch of Nature’s 3,100 acres, complete with all the amenities.

To ensure campers are safe and successful at Camp Little Giant, they must either meet the essential eligibility criteria or provide their own one-on-one caregiver to assure their care needs are met. Additional information is available online or by calling Touch of Nature at 618-453-1121.

Each session runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Diverse sessions for different groups

The schedule includes:

  • June 10-14 – Lily Pads, session 1, for children ages 10-17 who struggle in social spheres or who need a little more attention than a traditional camp may offer. This includes those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, generalized anxiety, ADHD or social anxiety. The camp gently fosters friendship development and social growth.
  • June 17-21 – Adults Retreat, session 1, for adults of all ages who want a mix of adventure, serenity and exploration featuring all of the traditional camp activities.
  • June 24-28 – Dyna Camp, for youths age 10-14 who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD). The focus will be on campers receiving a consistent, successful, positive camp experience.
  • July 8-12 – Lily Pads, session 2, for children ages 10-17.
  • July 15-19 – Adults Retreat, session 2.
  • July 22-26 – Adults Retreat, session 3.

Sign up early

Registration for all camps is on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited to assure the low camper-to-staff ratio is maintained, so early registration is encouraged. Sign up online.

Some campers may qualify for scholarship assistance.

When registering, participants can also sign up for optional transportation from the Banterra Center parking lot to Touch of Nature each day before and after camp for $20. Overnight lodging at the camp is also available for an additional charge Monday through Thursday.

Find the complete camp schedule, registration forms and additional details online or contact Sydney Pogue, associate director of programs, at sydney.pogue@siu.edu or 618-453-3950. Discover details about all of the SIU summer camps at camps.siu.edu.

Employment and volunteer opportunities

Camp Little Giant also offers a wide variety of opportunities for summer employment, fieldwork and practicums for students and volunteers. The camp, which is accredited by the American Camping Association, employs counselors, lifeguards, nurses, specialists and others to assist with nature and outdoor activities, arts and crafts, sports and games, to serve as “buddies” and help with other components of the camp.

For more information about employment, practicum or volunteer options, contact Pogue at sydney.pogue@siu.edu or 618-453-3950.