Camp Starfish Camps

Camp Starfish Camps

New Hampshire based Special Needs Summer Camp with a 1:1 ratio!

  • For Ages 6 to 18
  • In-Person Camps Only

About Camp Starfish Camps

Starfish was designed, created, and structured to provide a safe, fun and skill-building therapeutic camp experience to children who, for whatever reason(s), are unable to find success in more traditional environments. Many campers who attend Starfish have been asked to leave other summer or extra-curricular programs because the staff ratio, structure or program expectations did not set up children with extra needs for success. Some have never tried camp or spent any time away from home.  

Some Starfish campers attend mainstream schools, often with IEPs or class aides. Some attend private therapeutic schools with small classes and multiple teachers. Others attend residential schools or alternative learning academies. Many have tried several school placements and are still trying to find the right fit. All are looking for a summer camp where social interactions are appropriate and simplified, where they are not the "odd one out" and where they can feel at home.

Some, though not all, of our campers have been diagnosed with one or more of the following: anxiety, ADHD, learning disabilities (including NVLD), autism, aspergers, PDD, oppositional defiance, anger problems, sensory processing/ integration disorder, depression, bipolar, inflexible explosivity, reactive attachment, and other extra needs. If you're not sure whether Starfish is right for your camper, please contact us.

Camp Locations:

Camp FAQ

Are there campers who are not appropriate for Starfish?

Just like with any camp, it's important that you, your camper, and the camp all feel that the potential to be a good match. A camp for teenage boys will not accept a 10 year old girl. A camp designed to provide accessible camp for children with physical special needs may not accept a child who does not need their services. While we serve a very diverse group of youth, Starfish, too, has guidelines for our camper population. That being said, we work individually with each applicant, so if you have any questions about whether Starfish is a good fit for your camper, please definitely get in touch with us! In general, successful camper applicants are: Self-feeding at an age-appropriate level (staff help with portion control, table manners, etc.) Capable of toileting and cleaning themselves after doing so (staff will verbally prompt but not hand-over-hand help) Free of restrictive medical conditions like feeding tubes, colostomy bags, IV medications (our health center nurses are great, but care is basic, with no doctor on site) Age-appropriate with daily living skills (with verbal prompting). Examples include independently putting on a bathing suit, remaining clothed in company of others, following the steps of taking a shower with only verbal prompts from staff Willing to attend - or commit to trying - camp (we will not "force" campers to attend, but we will encourage them) Flexible to exploring group living (living in a cabin with others, verbally communicating during activities and bunk meetings, participating in give-and-take conversations with prompting; help with bunk/village "cleanup" chores) Physcially able to traverse camp, including hills, stairs, bunk beds, traveling between activities Typically, youth are not appropriate for attendance at Starfish are those who: are currently in the juvenile justice system (Starfish is not a "boot camp" or "behavior modification program") exhibit a frequent pattern of violent acts or routinely aggressive behavior set fires or those who have been firesetters and have not completed a remediation program are, within 4-6 weeks prior to attendance, residing in CBAT, hospitalization, inpatient therapeutic programming, residential school, or any level of care which utilizes daily clinical/therapeutic supervision require routine, hands-on toileting assistance (bedwetting is fine) routinely and actively self-injure (opportunistic cutting, bleeding) as a means of emotional coping have active disordered eating which includes severely restricted intake (this is not "picky eaters," of which we have plenty), binging/purging, or requiring locked storage of food intentionally harm animals self-stimulate or self-soothe in public (inappropriate self touching) youth with opportunistic sexualized behaviors (predatory interactions with others) Our camp was built in the 1940s, and we acquired it in 2008. Since then we have made many upgrades to the accessibility, but it is a long-term work-in-progress. So, while we welcome applications of all abilities, if a camper has mobility restrictions, we highly recommend that you please call and speak with us prior to submitting an application.

Is there financial aid available and how does that process work?

Starfish fundraises tirelessly in order to be able to provide financial aid to reduce the cost of camp when the full tuition is out of reach. It is our goal to work compassionately and openly with each family to determine ability to pay and to provide assistance with securing camp funding. Financial Aid is determined based on family size, income, and other pertinent factors. Special considerations will be taken into account to the best of our ability. Supporting documentation is required in order for a request of Financial Aid to be processed. You can find the Financial Aid application here: Also, please note that Financial Aid from Starfish can be combined with other sources of funding (such as agencies, grants, etc.) and in those situations, Starfish Aid is the last step of the process. It is our expectation is that families who are able to pay the full tuition amount, without financial aid, will do so. Please do not apply for financial aid unless the full cost of camp is a true hardship.

Will I know about Starfish financial aid before you accept my child?

No, but you will know about Starfish financial aid before you confirm his/her registration. We accept campers into Starfish based on their need for the special programming we offer, not based on financial merits. For that reason, our enrollment department will first accept your camper into the program, then discuss aid packages and financial arrangements. In this way, we provide financially needs-blind admissions. Once you have all the information available to you, including a financial aid package to consider, you will be asked to confirm your child’s registration.

Is a 1-to-1 ratio the same as a 1-on-1 ratio? Which is Starfish?

Camp Starfish's traditional programs provide a 1 "to" 1 (also known as 1:1) staff-to-camper ratio. This means that there are as many adults as there are campers - and at Starfish, there are actually more staff than campers, because even when our staff have time off, we still maintain our ratios. Some camps include "site staff" like cooks, nurses, maintenance staff, etc. in their ratios. Starfish does not. We have direct-care staff in a 1:1 ratio with campers, plus directors and all the others who make camp run smoothly. As far as we know, there are only a couple full-summer camps in the entire country that use a true 1:1 ratio like Starfish to provide camp for children with emotional, social, behavioral and learning challenges. We do because we firmly believe that it enables us to offer an exceptional level of care and help children find success.

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