Camp Koinonia

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Camp Koinonia is an outdoor education program for 150 children ages 7-21 who have multiple disabilities.

The program was developed in 1977 at Virginia Tech as part of a class with the primary purpose of providing a meaningful, experiential learning opportunity for university students while involving children and young adults, some with severe disabilities, in outdoor activities that they would not be able to do otherwise. A class of 200 UT students attends a three hour class every Thursday in preparation for their week at camp. During the first year of the program a counselor/camper duo submitted the winning name for the program – Camp Koinonia. Koinonia comes from the Greek and means ‘fellowship’ and ‘caring community’. Since that time the purpose and mission of Camp Koinonia has been to provide a ‘caring community’ for our campers in sense of true ‘fellowship’. It is also said of Camp Koinonia that this is ‘An Experience that will Last a Lifetime’ which has proven true for hundreds of individuals over the years.


The program is offered through the Therapeutic Recreaton Program in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. College students from a variety of academic programs participate in the course, especially in Therapeutic Recreation, Special Education, Child and Family Studies, and Psychology. This 14 week course is devoted to facilitating the students’ understanding of working with children with disabilities before actually conducting the week long Camp Koinonia experience.


The campers at Camp Koinonia come from a variety of special education programs and schools in Knox, Blount, and Anderson counties. The age ranges from 7-21 and the program is primarily geared toward those who do not normally have the opportunity to attend these types of programs. Disabilities include Down syndrome, autism, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, and others.


Programmed activities include horseback riding, canoeing, arts and crafts, sports and games, activities of daily living, low ropes course, music and movement, mad science, cooking, overnight camping, and outdoor education. Special events include hay rides, game shows, camp fire, ice cream socials, and everybody’s favorite, the dance. Each activity is run by 2-3 UT students who plan the daily activity. The activity staff fundraises in order to get enough money and materials to put on their activity.


The Clyde M. York, 4-H Training Center is an accessible facility located in Crossville, TN. Cabins include bunk beds, showers, and restroom facilities.


The campers and staff will have three hot, well balanced meals daily by the 4-H Center’s cooking staff. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the dining hall where tables are separated by cabin groups. Cheering and games are played in order to choose the order in which cabin groups are chosen to get their food. Please notify us of any food allergies or dietary restrictions your camper has.

Medical Staff

There will be at least one medical personnel on the premises 24 hours a day to administer medications and first aid. A medical facility is located within 10 miles of camp. Our medicine administration is run by a team of nurses and med certified staff. Each camper’s medicines are carefully sorted, labeled, and distributed on time. Please bring your camper’s medications in their original bottles with instructions on how to administer them, what dosage, how often, and specific times.


For 2016, we are pleased to announce that the cost for each camper to attend Camp Koinonia is only $375.00 for the entire week! Over the recent years, the costs of planning, operating, and executing camp have increased considerably. The actual cost for one camper to attend camp is almost $1,000. We also charge UT students a fee of $150 to participate. Aside from the camper and counselor fees, 100% of the costs of Camp Koinonia are paid for by the Camp Koinonia Foundation through our fundraising efforts. We would like to thank all those who financially support Camp Koinonia.