The Southampton Fresh Air Home (SFAH) is a not-for-profit residential center offering summer camp sessions and year-round programs for children and young adults with physical disabilities. Our mission is to provide an enriching, recreational and educational experience. We are committed to helping our children develop physically, emotionally, and educationally, with the goal of fostering self-esteem, maturity and independence through a broadly balanced program, while providing their families with a well-deserved respite. The Southampton Fresh Air Home is dedicated to improving and expanding its programs and facilities as new opportunities, technology and financial support become available.
During their time at SFAH, campers develop a sense of community, a sense of belonging, and a sense of equality. Many children who come to the Home enjoy their first experiences of leadership, competition and independence – experiences they carry with them throughout their lives. Their weeks at camp provide an opportunity for them to get to know others with similar physical conditions, to mature socially, and gain greater levels of independence and self-confidence. It is this value of being together in a positive, caring environment that develops the camper's independence and confidence. It's not complicated.....just a lot of fun!
Summer Camp Program
Each summer there are two (2) three-week sessions. Additionally, we provide a one-week program for younger children who have never been away from home as well as children who require a higher level of nursing care such as tube feeding. Each session has an optimal enrollment of 50 children.
Campers enjoy the Home’s unique, adapted Sports Programs that include swimming, sailing, relays, tennis, basketball, baseball, dodgeball, football and hockey. These activities promote motor and athletic skills to help children develop agility, coordination, muscle tone and flexibility. They gain socialization skills and friendly competition by participating in team sports. They also gain critical self-confidence as they learn that they, too can participate in a wide range of sports and games.
Campers spend time in our Arts and Crafts Workshop where activities include drawing, painting, music, dance, drama, games and cooking. All of these activities offer a fun way for an individual to develop his or her skills and express his or her thoughts and feelings.
Computer and iPad Programs
There is a well-equipped Computer Center where the children learn the use of modern computers and iPads. The iPad Program is very popular, especially for our most severely challenged children. We found that many of our campers ae unable to use a conventional keyboard because of their disabilities. Studies have shown that for those with muscular and skeletal diseases, a touch screen is much easier to use than a conventional keyboard and lead to huge increases in usage.
SFAH has upgraded our entire fleet of wheelchair vans over the past four years. With the new fleet in place, we are better able to safely transport campers to and from New York City and are able to expand our off-site field trips. Outings included trips to ocean beaches, sporting events, museums, concerts, carnivals, zoos, aquariums, farms, theater and more.
Financial Aid Program
No child is denied an opportunity to be a camper because of their inability to pay. SFAH provides over $250,000 in financial aid rewards to approximately 100 of the neediest children every summer. Financial aid is available for all levels of need, from minimal need to 100% of camp fees. Typically, 75% of campers require some amount of financial aid to attend our program.
We continue to expand our Alumni Program. Our goal is to mentor, inspire, encourage and provide tools and information to help them prepare for life after SFAH. Throughout the year, the Home offers alumni days and weekends where alumni get together and enjoy a baseball game or a movie or luncheon in the city. This past summer we had one or two alumni in each cabin to act as mentors and help the younger campers adjust to camp life. During the off-season and several days in the summer, alumni return to the Home to re-establish friendships and share their thoughts about life after SFAH.
In 2008 with the addition of four climate controlled dormitories, SFAH began offering several off-season weekends during the school year for smaller groups of children to revisit the friendships made during the summer and enjoy seasonal activities. These Weekend Programs are offered free of charge and transportation is provided. Also offered is a Holiday Party in December where as many as 150 campers, siblings and parents gather at the Home, have lunch, play games and enjoy being together. The campers eagerly look forward to this party every year.
Expanded Off Season Programs
In 2016, with the addition of a year-round Assistant Camp/Program Director, we have expanded our off-season programming. While the summer camp program is a successful one, beloved by all the campers, the youth have expressed a lack of recreational opportunities during the year and they face social isolation in their communities outside of camp. Many of the campers are the only people with physical disabilities in mainstream schools, and contact with friends who share the experience of disability is limited to the camp session. SFAH has addressed the needs expressed by its campers through a program expansion. The expansion allows the facility to move from a “summer+” model to a year-round resource for youth with physical disabilities. In addition, SFAH hopes to equip physically disabled youth with the skills they need to be successful in their communities. The program expansion will further these goals through an innovative model serving both current campers, ages 8-18 and young adult “alumni” who have aged out of the summer camp program, but still need support as they transition into adulthood.