March 2, 2015
Contact:  Marie Larsen, (805)471-9208

Camp Hapitok Cancels 2015 Summer Session
44 year tradition ends

San Luis Obispo, CA — Camp Hapitok, a residential summer camp for SLO County children with speech and language disorders, is cancelling its 2015 program session. In January the organization’s board of directors learned that its 40+ year joint partnership with the SLO County Office of Education was ending due to the Office’s liability concerns.

The Friends of Hapitok organization has struggled with spiraling camp costs for the past few years, but the camp’s 45th summer session was expected to proceed. However, the unexpected loss of administration services and insurance coverage previously provided by the County Office of Education makes a summer 2015 camp financially unfeasible.

“We are devastated,” said Marie Larsen. “We have explored all avenues to find a solution, but we need an additional $80,000 that we can’t raise in time for summer. We simply have no option but to cancel our 2015 camp.”  Larsen said the group could support the originally anticipated 2015 operational costs, but could not meet the financial demands of becoming an independent organization on such a short deadline.  “The new arrangement announced by the County Office of Education leaves us no time to make other arrangements,” she said.

For nearly half a century, Camp Hapitok has offered an intense four-week speech therapy and learning experience for local students referred by school speech/language pathologists.  The unique, no-cost experience pairs one camper, generally a first through fourth grader, with a teen volunteer.  Campers and teens go home each Friday and return to camp on Monday morning.

Area families and educators have long recognized the value of the camp and the profound difference it makes in the lives of both campers and the teen volunteers who work with them.  Debbie Hoffman, a 25 -year board member, said that many former campers return as teens to volunteer with Camp Hapitok.  Ryan Elliott, is a Princeton student and former camper whose life was changed after attending the camp as a sixth grader.  After a challenging 6th grade year, where he struggled with his speech/language disorder, the skills he gained at Camp Hapitok gave him a new-found confidence.  He blossomed in middle school and high school, eventually returning to Camp Hapitok as an outstanding TIGR and later a staff member.   “Ryan credits Camp Hapitok for launching him on the road to success and fulfillment,” said Hoffman.  “I just wish there was a way we could keep these stories coming.” Ryan is currently attending Princeton University on a full scholarship.

Additional information about Camp Hapitok is available at www.CampHapitok.com.