Camp PossAbility — Fast Facts
Mission: Camp PossAbility exists to give young adults with physical disabilities a week to empower the mind, body, and spirit with social enrichment, outdoor adventure, and emotional support.
Targeted Result: That young people with disabilities would see their potential and need to be an active part of society and would feel empowered to make a difference in the world around them
Target Audience: Young adults ages 18 to 35 with physical disabilities who have a high school diploma or equivalent. All campers must have a physical impairment that requires a wheelchair for mobility.
Most Common Disabilities Served: Cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury
Exclusions: Autism, cognitive disabilities (other than mild), severe memory loss, combative behaviors, uncontrolled psychiatric disabilities, biting tendencies, ventilators, hospitalization within 30 days of camp, open wounds, or behaviors that are a high risk to others
Location: Bradford Woods, Martinsville, Indiana
Organization: 501(c)3, all-volunteer run
A Place to Overcome Obstacles
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
I have a high school certificate but not a diploma. Do I still qualify for camp?
My friend was accepted for Camp PossAbility but I was not. Why?
I sent in my application form and payment but did not hear anything back. Does that mean I was accepted?
Applications are reviewed and processed when you send them. You should hear by early January whether or not you were accepted for the program. We will not be able to tell you until that time whether you were accepted or not.
So is there a better chance I will get accepted into camp if I just give my school name and graduation date but don’t specify a diploma?
I have gone to Bradford Woods since I was a child. Why is the program changing now?
Does this camp only serve those who use wheelchairs?
All Camp PossAbility campers must use wheelchairs at least part time, although the majority of our campers use them full time. Other adapted devices–braces, arm prosthetics, walkers, canes, crutches, leg prosthetic(s), special straws or eating utensils, etc.–do not qualify you for our program unless you use a wheelchair for mobility at least part time as well.
Brief History of Camp PossAbility
Camp PossAbility was a dream of Lauren Harmison. Lauren started volunteering at adapted camps at age 17 with two weeks at Camp Red Cedar in Fort Wayne. Later, Lauren volunteered at Camp Barnabas in Purdy, Missouri, spending one year as a 1:1 volunteer and three years as a camp nurse for Camp Barnabas’s adult camp.
When Lauren was in nursing school, she met Dustin Faurote, a local high school student who had had a recent spinal cord injury. Lauren wanted him to come to camp to have some new adventures after his injury but realized that most adapted adult camps were not a good fit.
Many camps exist for adults with disabilities but most focus on adults with cognitive delays with or without physical disabilities. Camps for young adults with high cognitive function did not seem to exist. Hence the idea for Camp PossAbility was born. Lauren searched many websites and talked to many different camps about their programs before realizing that she would have to create her own camp to make this dream a reality.
In 2013, Lauren began emailing every attorney in Fort Wayne she could find who might help her set up a 501(c)3. Kingsley Regnier in Fort Wayne volunteered and helped Lauren get Camp PossAbility off the ground.
In April 2014, Camp PossAbility was granted its non-profit status. A Board of Directors was then formed and plans for camp were put into place, with Bradford Woods being the desired location due to it’s accessibility options and easy access to an airport.
In 2015, Camp PossAbility had its first week of camp and the rest is history. The Board of Directors has changed a lot in the first few years of camp, but the vision of Camp PossAbility remains strong as the camp team is built.
Camp PossAbility is run 100% by volunteers and is funded by grants and donations. Camp PossAbility would not be what it is today without the help of our amazing team of volunteers and our vendors.
If you are looking for a place to belong, Camp PossAbility is your place! Come and join us!
Meet the Board for Camp PossAbility
Lauren E. Harmison
Founder, Board Vice President, Camp CORE Team
Lauren received her Bachelor of Science degree in education and her Associate of Science degree In nursing from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). Lauren used many school experiences to learn more about those affected by disability. She has also done volunteer work giving respite care to families with children affected by disability, volunteering at adapted camps, helping families who had a recently disabled family member, and putting together fund raisers for young adults who were recently injured. Lauren spent several years working in area hospitals and also did pediatric home health care. She now runs Camp PossAbility from her home while caring for her daughter, Reece. Lauren’s hobbies include spending time with her husband Eric and daughter Reece, playing the piano, reading (esp. books by Dani Pettrey), drinking coffee, and relaxing with friends. Lauren is also the manager for Tyler Dale from the History Channel show American Restoration.
Board Advisor/Camp CORE Team
Melissa Witmer offers a lot to the Camp PossAbility board and the CORE team with her previous experience as an army medic. She is currently studying nursing and will graduate from the University of St. Francis with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2018. Melissa is a packing expert and helps make sure Lauren does not lose anything or miss any details. Melissa also runs all registration, the camp store, and other organizational projects at camp. When Melissa is not studying for a nursing exam or helping with camp, she can usually be found drinking coffee, watching her favorite TV shows on Netflix, or getting together with her siblings.
Melanie Kline learned of Camp PossAbility through Lauren. Having attended nursing school with Lauren, Melanie graduated from IPFW with an Associate’s degree in nursing. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in business with a marketing concentration from IUSB. Melanie spent 5 years volunteering in a horseback riding program to assist those affected by disability and 6+ years volunteering as a one on one aide at a Fort Wayne church helping families affected by disability safely send their children to the church’s programs. Melanie joins the Board of Directors to execute “Glamping for PossAbility,” the camp’s annual fundraiser, and develop additional effective fundraisers to assist in keeping camp affordable for campers. In addition to working on the board, Melanie remains a part-time RN for Lutheran Orthopedic Hospital, is actively homeschooling her 7 year old boy, and is soaking up any cuddles the 3 year old boy will offer. As a boy mom, most hobbies revolve around Nerf battles, light saber fights, and working out often in order to keep up with them as they grow.
Dr. Adam D. Keesling
Adam received his undergraduate degree in Human Biology (BA) at the University of Kansas-Lawrence and then received a Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Kansas, as well. He completed his family medicine residency in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he became involved with Camp PossAbility. He currently resides in Arkansas City, Kansas, where he practices family medicine. Adam has an interest in medical missions and goes to the Dominican Republic at least once a year for medical mission trips. He also enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, bowling and KU Athletics. He greatly enjoys working with the campers, volunteers, and staff at Camp PossAbility.
Tristin A. Caswell
Tristin received her undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Health Services and then received a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at Western Michigan University. Currently, she is practicing as an Occupational Therapist in a rural setting, based in Iron River, MI. She has experience working with individuals who have physical, mental, emotional and cognitive disabilities. Her main interest & involvement with Camp PossAbility is to enable our campers to participate in camp activities as barrier free as possible. She is involved in a local church, has an interest in mission trips and enjoys spending time with her family, especially her children and husband. She greatly enjoys camp weeks with Camp PossAbility and looks forward to many more to follow.
Additional CORE team members/advisors
Advisor/Camp CORE Team
Tyler Dale is best known for his role on the TV show American Restoration on The History Channel. He was hired to do a celebrity appearance at the very first Camp PossAbility auction and has been a part of Camp PossAbility ever since. When Lauren hired him for the first camp week, she expected him to hang out with everyone and be the “face of camp” in some pictures and videos. Instead, Tyler worked as a volunteer, doing anything the head staff needed, and became a fast member of the camp family. The following year, Tyler was moved to the camp CORE team to help RUN Camp PossAbility and now works entirely in a volunteer role since Lauren is his manager. Tyler is the “jack of all trades” at camp doing everything from safety evaluations to wheelchair repairs to running programs and DJing. When not at camp, Tyler is most likely working, drinking coffee, helping rescue German shepherds, or working on his mini truck.
Advisor/Camp CORE Team
Eric Harmison is Lauren’s husband. While he says he joined the CORE Team initially by default, he is an amazing asset to the camp team. Camp would not happen if it were not for his amazing logistical and engineering skills that help keep the storage unit packed and organized, loaded into the rental truck, unloaded and reloaded at camp, and then put back in the storage unit. He also helps fix everything from feeding pumps to wheelchairs while at camp. There are many “behind the scenes” and logistical issues that Eric handles, and camp would not run smoothly without him. In his free time, Eric likes to work on DIY and home projects, read about boats, and relax with Lauren and Reece.