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Kindle seeks community spark

Community: Local nonprofit seeks land, suggestions for camp to aid disabled children

Posted: June 16, 2010 8:58 p.m.
Updated: June 17, 2010 4:30 a.m.
An artist’s conception of Kindle Ranch’s proposed 40-acre site, which includes a 20-acre buffer. Kindle Ranch, a nonprofit that aims to help disable children, hopes to open a facility in the Santa Clarita Valley that would be a year-round destination for other nonprofits statewide. An artist’s conception of Kindle Ranch’s proposed 40-acre site, which includes a 20-acre buffer. Kindle Ranch, a nonprofit that aims to help disable children, hopes to open a facility in the Santa Clarita Valley that would be a year-round destination for other nonprofits statewide.
An artist’s conception of Kindle Ranch’s proposed 40-acre site, which includes a 20-acre buffer. Kindle Ranch, a nonprofit that aims to help disable children, hopes to open a facility in the Santa Clarita Valley that would be a year-round destination for other nonprofits statewide.
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A nonprofit group is looking for space in the Santa Clarita Valley to build a $30 million camp that would give disabled children a chance to have a classic camp experience without worrying about their disabilities.

And while the camp is only in its early design stages, officials said they hope it will make the valley a year-round destination for nonprofits across California.

Kindle Ranch is currently looking to find a minimum of 40 acres of land in the SCV to build the camp, which would be one of only a handful in the United States made specifically for kids with special needs, said Eva Payne, the camp’s founder.
The camp would be built on about 20 acres, surrounded by open space to act as a buffer, said Don Morgan, a consultant for the camp. The 40 or so acres could cost about $2 million, Morgan said.

The city has met with officials from Kindle Ranch to talk about how Santa Clarita could partner with the group but officials have only had a few discussions so far, city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz wrote in an e-mail.

“We wanted to be in a city where we could bring volunteers in from the community,” Payne said. “We think the camp will be a point of pride for Santa Clarita.”

The camp has spent a year gathering a team of other nonprofits and medical professionals to design the camp site to accommodate any disability. Payne said they want to get input and advice from Santa Clarita-based groups and community members as well.  

Kindle Ranch spent about a year looking for possible locations around Southern California but chose the SCV because of its central location.

The camp would be near two hospitals — Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and Providence Holy Cross Medical Center — and would be easily reachable by way of Interstate 5 or Highway 14. The intended site also would be close to numerous nonprofit groups in Los Angeles that could utilize Kindle Ranch facilities year-round, Morgan said.

Payne has helped run Project Kindle, which has an office in Valencia, for the last 12 years. The group provides therapy and support for kids with HIV and AIDS.

For the nonprofit’s week-long summer camps, it rents out camp locations that aren’t equipped to handle campers with wheelchairs, walkers or any other disabilities, Payne said. So the camps reinforce a negative perception of a child’s physical limitations, she said. “You can either use a cheap site where the kids’ needs are not met,” Payne said, “or you can use a more expensive site and pay an arm and a leg and (the kids’) needs are still not met.”

Kindle Ranch is being modeled after a few other camps across the nation, such as Camp For All in southeast Texas. That camp works with 56 other nonprofits and has about 7,000 campers each year, said Pat Sorrells, the nonprofit’s president.

Camp For All charges about $250 per child for a week at camp, but most of the nonprofits pick up the tab, Sorrells said.

“If it’s an ongoing disability or disease, hospitals can only do so much, but they can’t support kids emotionally,” Sorrells said. “They come to camp and they discover life. They discover that they’re not alone.”

 

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