An Exceptional Place Where Exceptional People Can Be Themselves
After emigrating from Bulgaria in 1928, Alexander Angel Krem graduated from George Williams College in Chicago with a degree in recreation and group work. It was during his studies that Krem developed his central ethos: Recreation isn’t simply time off, it is re-creation – a time to gain self-knowledge and clarity.
During his career as a special education teacher in San Leandro, Krem lamented how his students were held to restrictive schedules that lacked the freedom of their neurotypical counterparts. Krem learned that most of his students had never been camping, an essential independence building experience that Krem prioritized for his own sons. Determined to provide developmentally disabled students the same freedom and autonomy that was afforded to their classmates, Alexander Krem established Camp Krem in 1957 in Boulder Creek.
Camp Krem’s winning formula is founded on the idea that all people deserve a space to be accepted for who they are, to self-actualize, to gain independence, and to develop confidence. Today the camp’s mission is supported by a diverse portfolio of programs and activities.
“Arts and crafts, sports, games, dance, drama, music therapy, hiking, going in the swimming pool, spending time with our farm animals. Our philosophy is to have a lot of options available but give the campers complete freedom of choice,” says Alexander Krem’s granddaughter and current Camp Director, Christina Krem DiGirolamo. “Our campers’ lives are very structured, and they don’t always get the choice of how to spend their time. At camp, we want as many options available as possible, and for the campers to be able to choose. It’s a really wonderful chance for campers to enjoy activities they don’t always have the opportunity to try.”
Through their daily free-choice activities to the more structured animal and music therapy programs, Camp Krem offers a critical learning experience for those with developmental disabilities. Their Summer Camp and Year-Round Respite programs are open to all campers, regardless of age, disability, or income. Many of their campers return year after year.
“We’re creating a place for exceptional people to be themselves,” says Christina Krem DiGirolamo.
Staying true to the Camp Krem mission means not only prioritizing recreation but also prioritizing accessibility. This is a space where learning opportunities are created for individuals who are often sidelined and financial aid is made available for low-income families. After all, everyone deserves to go to camp.
Camping Unlimited for the Developmentally DisabledDonate now!
Director: Christina Krem
Camping Unlimited is a non-profit charitable organization that provides out-of-home respite to parents and caregivers of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Our single-day and overnight programs provide relief from the daily demands of care and supervision, while fostering independence, nurturing responsibility, developing competence and building lifelong friendships. We provide a warm and supportive atmosphere of planned permissiveness that encourages community, recreation, education, fun and adventure.
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Five of my students were given the most precious gift they have ever received: full scholarships to attend Camp Krem. To say this experience was amazing for my students would be an understatement. Camp Krem was life-changing for them. They were in a place where they truly felt safe. It struck me that they never had a safe place to go in their own neighborhood. This was the first time in their lives where they could put their guards down and relax. My students were much more verbal during camp. In the six years I have known these students, never have I seen them talk as much as they did at camp. It was remarkable. They came out of their shells, and from day one it was clear that all of them felt like they were in a place where it was not only acceptable to be who they are, it was encouraged.
Everyone Deserves to Go to Camp
For many people, growing up with developmental disabilities means being excluded from the confidence-building experiences that other people have access to.
At Camp Krem, exceptional individuals are encouraged to learn, grow, and exercise their independence – a one-of-a-kind opportunity for these kids and adults.
In 2020, their beloved 63-year-old camp in Boulder Creek was destroyed by wildfire. They are currently working hard to rebuild, and in the meantime are operating at Camp Krem Yosemite, in Ahwahnee, so that they can continue to serve their campers and their families.
By donating to Camping Unlimited, you are helping build self-confidence in people who are often overlooked and left behind by our education system. You are helping provide their parents and caregivers respite, and valuable and much-needed time to themselves. Furthermore, supporters of Camping Unlimited are funding camp scholarships for low-income families who want the best for their children, too. Join the Camping Unlimited donor list today to help fund the healthy, happy recreational experiences these campers deserve.
Brotzman-Van Bladel Family Fund
Danford Fisher Hannig Foundation
Dr. Fred Cohen & Dr. Carolyn Klebanoff
Escher Family Foundation
Ireland Family Foundation
June and Julian Foss Foundation
M&M Caldwell Foundation
Norman Raab Foundation
Nicholson Family Foundation
Ralph and Lois Stone Family Foundation