Inclusive Recreation, Adaptive Sports, and Summer Camps
Every day there are more recreational, sports, social, and summer camp opportunities accessible to children and young adults with disabilities and their families. Some of them are listed here for you. PACER does not endorse or specifically recommend any of these programs and all information is subject to change. Please contact individual sources for the most current information.
- Ballet Beyond Barriers
Ballet Beyond Barriers is an adaptive dance program for children of all abilities and needs in Lakeville. Explore new ways to move through dance and discover the unique rhythm and music in your own body. In every class dancers work with a ballet instructor and a physical therapist, and dance to live music. Have you always wanted to dance? Now is your chance! CSG grant and CDCS waiver funds may be used to pay for this program.
- Fishing Has No Boundaries
Opening up the great outdoors for people with disabilities through the world of fishing. FHNB provides physical and mental support to further develop the confidence and abilities of people with disabilities who fish. Through research and development of special fishing equipment, dock loading systems, and boat adaptations, FHNB works diligently to create access and opportunities for all individuals to fish regardless of their disability. Every summer, the Brainerd Lakes Chapter FHNB annual event draws over 120 anglers together to fish.
- Padraig’s Place
A place to have fun! Padraig’s place partners with the ski and snowboard schools at Buck Hill in Burnsville and Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls to provide a fun experience for skiers and snowboarders with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. Padraig’s Place provides an opportunity to experience winter fun in a safe and family friendly atmosphere. Lessons are tailored to suit individual needs to create the best memories, again and again.
- The Penguin Project at Northern Starz Children's Theatre
Have you always dreamed of performing on stage? The Penguin Project brings together the acting talents of young people with disabilities (ages 10-22) and peer mentors without disabilities the same age. After 4 months of rehearsing and getting to know each other, you're ready to perform a Broadway musical together. Find your inner star with new friends!
- River Valley Project Explore
Project Explore is a Community Education program for adults with physical and developmental cognitive disabilities living in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, Lakeville, Randolph, Rosemount, and Savage. Project Explore encourages inclusion in community activities and provides customized learning, social, and recreational opportunities.
- Special Olympics Unified Schools
Special Olympics Unified Schools empowers students with and without intellectual disabilities to be leaders of change by playing sports together and learning leadership skills together. Do you want to help make your school or college a place where students with and without disabilities play on the same team and work together so everyone feels welcome? The Revolution is Inclusion! Are you in?
- Young Dance - Transforming Lives Through Movement
Young Dance is an integrated modern dance company in Saint Paul for youth with and without disabilities. Build your body and spirit through the creative art of dance. Experience modern dance in an inclusive, artistic community where you can express yourself through movement. Find your strength and confidence as you learn dance techniques for ANY body. No child who wants to dance will be discriminated against because of race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, or inability to pay. Come dance!
Accessible Outdoor Spaces
- Confidence Learning Center
Located in the beautiful Brainerd Lakes Area, Camp Confidence has been providing year-round activities in outdoor education and recreation for persons with developmental and cognitive disabilities and the deaf and hard of hearing communities since 1969. Campers experience personal growth while participating in a variety of outdoor experiences, including archery, cross country skiing, canoeing, fishing, and the Confidence Course. Book an accessible cabin and get ready to challenge your limits!
- Department of Natural Resources: Accessible Outdoors
The Minnesota DNR is opening the outdoors to people with disabilities by updating its public spaces and programs to meet state and federal accessibility standards. Get information about accessible state forests, parks, trails, and wildlife management areas. Apply for special fishing and hunting permits and licenses for people with disabilities. Access audio editions of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer guide to Minnesota’s woods, waters, and wildlife. Get outdoors today!
- Explore Minnesota: Accessible Travel
From wheelchair-accessible trails to sensory-friendly theatrical productions and ASL museum interpreters, Minnesota destinations embrace accessibility for all. Go fishing, explore a prairie, or enjoy Twin Cities attractions. Search accessible travel possibilities by region, by city, or by activity. Make your next trip unforgettable.
- Let Kids Play! Accessible Playground Directory
Online directory of playgrounds in the state of Minnesota that have inclusive and accessible features and are open to the public. If you know of an accessible playground that does not appear on the list, you can submit information about it at the website.
- Wilderness Inquiry: Inclusive Outdoor Adventure Travel
Wilderness Inquiry provides opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to experience the great outdoors. Whether it’s a trip to the St. Croix River or the North Shore, the destination is helping people build meaningful connections with each other and the natural world.
- American Association of Adapted Sports Programs
Since 1996, AAASP has been transforming lives through school adapted team sports. AAASP envisions a society where all children with physical disabilities can experience the rewards and satisfaction of competitive school-based sports. Get in the game!
- Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Sports and Recreation
Are you ready for adventure? Start your journey here! An abundance of activities that challenge and encourage kids and adults with disabilities to lead active and healthy lifestyles are waiting for you to try. A wide variety of classes and programs are offered in the Twin Cities metro area and also in the Duluth Northland area.
- Minnesota Special Hockey
An adapted ice hockey program for players of all ages with developmental disabilities. Athletes increase their personal development and self-confidence on and off the ice by having fun, learning teamwork, gaining friendships, and improving physical skills. Over 270 hockey players in 15 cities across the state of Minnesota play games on Sundays during the regular season, participate in national and international festivals in March and April, and get together for many fun, non-hockey related events throughout the year.
- Minnesota State High School League
Since 1916, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) has provided educational opportunities for students through interscholastic athletics and fine arts programs and leadership and support for member schools. The MSHSL is a non-profit voluntary association that ranks among the top state associations across the nation, with more than 240,000 high school students from over 500 member schools participating annually in athletics and fine arts activities. Adapted team sports opportunities for Minnesota high school students with disabilities include soccer, floor hockey, bowling, and softball.
- Miracle League
Every child deserves a chance to play baseball, and Miracle League is working to remove the barriers that keep children with disabilities off the diamond. Miracle League teams play on a custom-designed, rubberized turf field that accommodates wheelchairs and other assistive devices while helping to prevent injuries. Every athlete with a disability is paired with an able-bodied peer to support making new friends every inning. There are over 240 Miracle League Organizations across the country, including Minnesota. Find a Miracle League near you today.
- Move United
Through a nationwide network of over 150 community-based chapters, Move United offers opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in over 50 different community sports. Move United is driven by the vision that every person, regardless of ability, has an equal opportunity to participate in sports and recreation in their community.
- SHARE: Sports, Health, Activities, Recreation & Exercise resources
It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your abilities are, you can find opportunities to improve your physical and emotional fitness and have fun at the same time! Click here to find adaptive activities in your community.
- Special Olympics of Minnesota
SOMN accepts and welcomes every single person regardless of ability or disability, one athlete at a time. Throughout the year, there are trainings and competitions in 16 Olympic-style sports at locations across the state. Join the community, find your sport, and reveal the champion in you!
- Minnesota PowerHockey League
Established in 1997, the MPHL now has over 40 players on 3 teams who compete in an 8-game regular season, culminating every year with a playoff tournament for the MPHL Championship Trophy. All athletes use a power wheelchair in daily life and roll onto the court to enjoy competitive power wheelchair hockey while learning goal setting, teamwork, sportsmanship, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
- U.S. Power Soccer Association
It is the mission and hope of the USPSA that all persons who use power wheelchairs will have the opportunity to play and experience power soccer. Power soccer athletes build lifelong relationships on and off the court. If you’re the kind of person that wants to dig deep, fight hard, and prove yourself in the heat of competition, power soccer might be what you’re looking for. Check out Minnesota’s power soccer teams: the Shockwave from Big Lake, the Northern Lights from Zimmerman, and the Courage Kenny Blizzards from Golden Valley.
- We Love to Play
Providing fun and togetherness since 1995. Join other youth and adults with disabilities on Saturday afternoons at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley and enjoy floor hockey, softball, and other adapted sports.
The Y promotes and provides access to healthy lifestyles for all children and adults, including those with disabilities. Through positive recreational experiences, participants build social skills, find support for their unique abilities and individuality, and work toward a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
Adaptive sports and recreation equipment
- Move United: Listing of Adaptive Equipment Suppliers
Do you love playing sports? Whether you are a competitive athlete or someone who just wants to try something new, there has never been more adaptive equipment available to make the world of sports accessible to people with disabilities. From beep baseball to water skiing, find the adaptive equipment you need to enjoy sports!
- PACER Center's Minnesota Special Needs Equipment Facebook Buy 'n' Sell Group
The Simon Technology Center at PACER Center created this Facebook group to help families find equipment and assistive technology after its initial use. Items such as communication devices, walkers, adaptive switches and toys, motorized cars (that can be adapted), adapted keyboards, etc. are posted with a picture, description, and price. Over 2,600 members strong.
- Adaptive Recreation and Learning Exchange-Serving People with Disabilities
Are you a young person or adult with a disability living in Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, or Richfield? Are you interested in joining a bowling club or a cardio class, or would you like to learn to shoot pool or how to cook great food with new friends? Click here to find out what Adaptive Recreation and Learning Exchange classes and social groups are happening near you.
- Best Buddies in Minnesota
Best Buddies in Minnesota builds one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities through school and community friendship programs, providing socialization opportunities to help erase the invisible line that often separates them. Connect with the Best Buddy chapter at your middle school, high school, or college. Or join the e-Buddies program, offered throughout the state. Or start a new chapter!
- Bridging Hearts
Bridging Hearts is an online social network for young adults with intellectual disabilities, including autism, dedicated to providing and maintaining a supportive community where everyone feels valued. In addition, monthly events in the Twin Cities bring members together for fun activities. Join today and discover new, lifelong friendships.
- Highland Friendship Club
Providing an array of year-round activities designed to give teens and young adults with disabilities opportunities to fully engage in their community and connect with others in ways that are meaningful and aligned with their personal choices and desires. Join HFC today to make friends, learn new skills, and find health and happiness!
- PACER Center Fun Times
Fun Times is a social program that connects teens and young adults with and without disabilities, ages 13 - 21. Activities include game nights, bowling, sporting events, painting classes, theater outings, and more. Events are held four to five times throughout the school year. Contact PACER Center and find out about Fun Times happening soon!
- Saint David’s Center-Destination…Anywhere!
Twice a month, teens and young adults with developmental disabilities (18 years & older) are invited to go on a new adventure. Take a break from your parents and head out on the town to make friends, experience new things in your community, and practice your independent living skills.
Promoting inclusion, communication, and togetherness with free and online interactive social skills sessions to students facing social challenges. ShareBuddies caters to students based on their specific communication abilities (non-verbal, semi-verbal, and verbal), grouping participants based on their current social skills abilities in 30 – 45 minute sessions, 3 – 4 times a week. Interactive lessons include flashcards, book reading, social stories, and more. Kids make friends and have fun at the same time, from the comfort of their homes. It’s online, it’s social, and it’s free!
- Hold Your Horses
Year-round, equine assisted services in a private farm setting in Greenfield with heated indoor and scenic outdoor facilities. A professional therapy team and trained equine partners provide opportunities for skills development both on and off the horse. Individuals with physical, cognitive, or sensory impairments achieve wellness and increase quality of life.
- Majestic Hills Ranch
Therapeutic horseback riding program in Lakeville for children and young adults with special needs ages 4 – 25. Majestic Hills Ranch provides riders with disabilities the opportunity to achieve a sense of freedom, accomplishment, and self-esteem while giving families hope through therapeutic riding and equine assisted activities.
- Minnesota Horse Council: Listing of Programs for Riders with Disabilities
Extensive listing of programs across the state for riders with disabilities. Some programs are affiliated with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) and some are affiliated with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). Saddle up!
- True Strides Therapeutic Horseback Riding
Equine Assisted Therapies/Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding in Maple Grove, offered year-round to children and adults. An ideal therapy option for individuals with ADD/ADHD, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Genetic Disorders, Developmental Delays, Multiple Sclerosis, Speech, Muscle and/or Nervous System Disorders and spinal cord injuries. The initial consult is free.
- We Can Ride
It is the mission of We Can Ride in Maple Plain to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities with a supportive team of 20 horses. It’s not about what disabilities or challenges riders face, but rather what their abilities are and how they can be discovered through therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-assisted activities.
PACER Summer Camp - EX.I.T.E. Camp (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering)
- A 5-Day Camp in August for middle school girls (6th-9th grades in the fall) with disabilities.
- It's FREE, you just need transportation and a box lunch each day.
- Camp runs each day from 9 AM to 4 PM at PACER Center in Bloomington.
- Do amazing experiments, make friends that will last a lifetime, discover how science, technology, engineering and math can be cool and exciting.
- AuSM Summer Camps
The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) camps are tailored for youth and adults with autism. Parents and caregivers can rest assured knowing that their campers are being cared for by highly trained, experienced staff, while campers make memories that last a lifetime. AuSM camps are available for individuals ages 6 and up who are AuSM members. Camp offerings include a day camp where campers arrive each morning and leave each afternoon, and two residential camps where campers stay several days and nights.
- Bridge the Gap Camp
The Academy of Whole Learning in Minnetonka offers a wide range of academic, recreational, and social skills summer camps for students entering grades K – 12 with autism and individual learning needs. Campers experience different opportunities for growth, learning, and excitement in a safe and welcoming environment. Services are individualized for each student and within each program students are grouped based on academic and social needs. Waivers accepted.
- Camp Connections
A unique summer day camp at West Metro Learning Connections in Excelsior, offering social skills programming combined with goal-directed therapeutic recreation activities for children with autism and related conditions, ages 5 and up. Each week includes fun, theme-centered activities, learning experiences, and fantastic field trips.
- Camp Heartland
At Camp Heartland in Willow River, the stigma stops. You can say as much or as little as you want about how HIV/AIDS impacts your life and no one will judge you. And there’s a sense of relief that comes with experiencing complete acceptance. A home away from home where you can be yourself, share your story or blend into a group -whatever works for you.
- Camp Oasis
Established by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, this residential summer camp provides children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis with a safe and supportive camp community. Volunteer physicians, nurse, and other health care professionals are available for 24-hour care. Campers see that they are not alone, try all sorts of new sports and activities, create friendships with people who truly understand them, put aside their troubles, and just have fun being kids!
- Camp Odayin
In the heartland of Minnesota, fun, safe, and supportive camp experiences and community building opportunities for young people with heart disease and their families. Campers experience acceptance and a sense of community, opportunities to develop independence and confidence, have fun and celebrate life! Residential, day, and family camps available.
- Camp of Champs
Born out of a vision to help children with disabilities ages 9 – 17 discover their strengths and connect with others who have similar experiences while learning valuable life skills. Based on the philosophy that every child must experience success to develop social confidence. From sunrise to sunset, campers enjoy cabin life on crystal clear Eagle Lake and join in a wide range of outdoor, hands-on, teambuilding activities to help them reach their personal potential and increase their independence.
- Camp Oz
On the shores of the St Croix River, a summer camp experience for youth ages 9-17 with epilepsy. Siblings are welcome to attend. Campers enjoy swimming, horseback riding, team-building exercises, and more. Two counselors are assigned to each cabin of 8–10 campers to meet their personal needs and develop a sense of community. With on-site medical staff and counselors trained in seizure recognition and response on-site 24/7, campers and their parents can rest assured they will be safe and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
- Camp Sertoma
On beautiful Sylvan Lake in central Minnesota, Deaf and Hard of Hearing children come together to meet other kids with similar experiences in a summer camp with no judgment and no communication barriers. Counselors are Deaf or Hard of Hearing themselves, providing understanding and positive role modeling to campers. The surrounding natural wilderness is the perfect place for campers to grow friendships and confidence. Fees are subsidized through support of Sertoma clubs from the Great Plains Region. Nobody is turned away for financial reasons.
- Camp Under the Starz with Northern Starz Children's Theatre!
Students with and without disabilities (ages 10-18) and adults with disabilities gather at Camp Courage North in Lake George, Minnesota for 10 fun-filled days of acting, singing, dancing, and making art. Outdoor activities for all campers include archery, boating, tubing, hiking, and a gaga pit.
- MICC Summer Program
Spend your summer with Minnesota Independence College & Community (MICC) in Richfield. Designed for young adults ages 17 – 20 with a diagnosed learning disability, executive dysfunction, autism, ADHD/ADD, or other neurological condition. Days are full and focused on supporting growth in 3 important areas: career readiness, social awareness and communication, and independent living. Learn skills. Experience Life!
- Timbertop Summer Camp for Youth with Learning Disabilities, Differences and Special Needs
Nestled just 19 miles northeast of Stevens Point in beautiful central Wisconsin, Timbertop Camp combines traditional camp activities with extra reading practice and group activities that focus on dealing with learning differences and special needs in a structured daily setting. An emphasis is placed on building self-esteem and how to make and keep friends. Whether building a campfire, cleaning the cabin, or learning how to handle a canoe, each camper learns to share the responsibility of camp life. The daily schedule includes: reading instruction, swim lessons, cabin activities, camp classes, evening campfires, stargazing and all-camp programs.
- True Friends
True Friends (formerly Camp Courage, Camp Friendship, and Camp Eden Wood) provides camp and respite experiences to children and adults with a variety of disabilities, along with their family and friends. Children with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and medical needs will have opportunities to develop an appreciation of nature, live cooperatively with others, share in the responsibilities of group living, develop new leisure interests, experience traditional camp activities, and have fun!
- University of Minnesota Kids Who Stutter Camp
For one week in June, kids get together for a half day of activities on the Twin Cities U of M campus, like bowling at Coffman Union and visiting the Raptor Center. Campers also participate in small group sessions with a graduate student clinician to share their own experiences with stuttering and discover a new support network of peers. At the end of the week, campers perform skits of their own creation for families and friends. Scholarships available based on need.
- West Metro Horse Camp
All that is needed is a love for horses, jeans or slacks, boots or shoes with a heel, and bring a bag lunch. Special needs children are welcome. Camp events include a parade of breeds and colors, safety demonstrations, grooming, saddling and bridling of the horses, herd study, and many other learning experiences. All with hands on participation and plenty of riding! Located on 30 acres of large pasture, paddocks, and indoor/outdoor arena space in Buffalo.