Fifty years ago, a small group of dedicated volunteers had an idea to build an accessible residential summer camp for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. As parents and volunteers, they were driven by the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to experience the unique joy of summer camp—regardless of their abilities. “Camp Civitan” created one of the first year-round camping experiences in Arizona.

Within the Flerish Design and Resale store, operated by the Civitan Foundation, is housed an “Art Gallery” where members who have trained with a third-generation Arizonan artist are showing and selling their one-of-a-kind fine art. Recent artists who had their works exhibited included, from left: Jessica MacDonald, Anthony Snider and Lynn Childress (photo by Teri Carnicelli).

Today, the 15-acre wheelchair accessible Camp Civitan in Williams, Ariz., is one of the largest year-round camps of its kind in the nation and spawned additional programs and services for the developmentally disabled.

The Civitan Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in north Phoenix, grew from the experiences of Camp Civitan and is now a leading voice in Arizona in providing unmatched, innovative services to individuals with special needs. Serving nearly 1,200 children and adults with disabilities throughout Arizona, the foundation has expanded its program to encompass educational and vocational activities.

The foundation now includes other locations and services to provide job and life-skill training for members to grow independently, socialize with peers and practice self-sufficiency.

Flerish Design and Resale is Civitan’s thrift store on 12625 N. Cave Creek Road. The store provides 70 paid shifts weekly for members learning all aspects of retail sales. Store hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. March 5-11 is National Spring Cleaning Week, so if you have clutter to get rid of, donations are always welcome. Call 602-358-8677.

The Respite Ranch, a home-like setting located near Civitan’s main campus, provides the much-needed respite and reprieve from constant caregiving, or as a last-minute option during times of critical need. This service is available 365 days a year.

“What drove the parents and volunteers to start a camp for the disabled 50 years ago is still the fire that drives us today,” said Dawn Trapp, CEO of the Civitan Foundation. “As Civitan moves forward, our goals are to continue exploring new opportunities to improve the quality of life for our members.”


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