More Than a Camp

There are over 325,000 children with special healthcare needs and 12,500+ experiencing foster/out-of-home care in Arizona and one camp facility built from the ground up expressly for them—Whispering Hope Ranch. Whispering Hope Ranch is a place where campers can do things they never thought possible, where disabilities are the norm, a place of acceptance and respect. 

A Place of Possibilities

Our programs help children with special needs focus on their abilities, not their disabilities. The ability to ride horseback in an adapted saddle, feel weightless in our special wheelchair swings, and participate in sports they often have to watch from the sidelines. The ability to change their narrative from “I can’t” to “I can!”

Whispering Hope Ranch campers:

  • Enjoy a fun, safe outdoor experience in an inclusive, barrier-free environment.
  • Form friendships with others living with similar circumstances.
  • Expand their physical boundaries, increase self-esteem and confidence.
  • Develop coping skills to sustain them through difficult times.
  • Spend time in a place where differences are not only accommodated, but celebrated.

The Power of Camp

A week at camp can profoundly affect children with special needs, giving them tools to cope with everyday stress, a sense of independence and accomplishment, and improving their medical compliance.

Serving children with any medical, physical, developmental or emotional disability, the Ranch transforms from one pediatric specialty to another each week. Adapted traditional camp activities—such as archery, arts and crafts and sports—are blended with our animal interaction and equine-facilitated programs and create an inclusive atmosphere for everyone to participate at their own pace.

Providing an experience that brings together children and animals living with similar disabilities or illnesses leaves campers feeling they are not alone. This sense of belonging and community extends well beyond our borders, enriching the health and vitality of our community at large.

Nature's Nurses

The heart of the Ranch experience is the healing that happens between campers and our gentle animal residents, many of whom also live with disabilities.

Animal interaction and equine-facilitated programs have a wide range of benefits for children with special needs, including: 

  • Improved emotional stability and self-esteem.
  • Accelerated physical, mental and emotional healing.
  • Unconditional acceptance – animals are nonjudgmental and uncomplicated.
  • Nurturing – psychologically, when humans nurture animals, their own need to be nurtured is fulfilled.
  • Increased socialization – animals create a relaxed environment making social interactions more comfortable and easier. 
  • Safe physical contact – the touch of an animal is non-threatening for children who have suffered abuse.
  • Physiological benefits such as decreased heart rate and blood pressure.
Blind Boy with Blind Horse