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Recreation Therapy


Contact RT staff:

Lisa Elder, CTRS
Assistant Director
Internships, Volunteers
765-349-5135 Ext. 5213

In 1939, John Bradford deeded the Bradford Estate to Indiana University to be used in partnership with the Riley Children’s Foundation to serve youth from the Riley Hospital for Children. The original plan was to turn the Manor House into a convalescent home for Riley Hospital Patients. Although this fully accessible historic home is used for weekend camps today, the plan grew to a larger scale including a full summer camp program for multiple youth with disabilities. In 1955, Camp Riley began serving youth with diabetes and polio. Six decades later, Camp Riley continues and has become a national leader for therapeutic camps serving hundreds of youth annually.

Today, the Recreation Therapy program is internationally known for the exemplary services offered through a variety of medically specific therapeutic summer camps as well as Adventure Therapy programming for youth and families at-risk. The program received the Eleanor Eells Award for Programming Excellence from the American Camp Association in 2012 – one of only a handful of camps nationally to receive this award.

Bradford Woods is home to a wide array of fully accessible facilities and therapeutic programs including canoeing, waterskiing, SCUBA diving, swimming, archery, soccer, basketball, arts and crafts, music, high and low ropes courses, and a variety of experiential based initiatives. Staff work closely with each group to develop activities that meet the specific needs of each individual participant.

Our Recreation Therapy programs provide unique opportunities for campers to improve life skills, develop social connections, boost self-confidence and self esteem, improve psycho-social skills, and increase independence. All programming includes a full assessment, written goals, and evaluation of progress.

Staff also collaborate on clinical research projects related to the Social Sciences and disability, instruct university classes in Recreation Therapy, and host practicum/internship students in therapeutic outdoor programming and Recreation Therapy. The Recreation Therapy program also serves as a clinical site for students from Indiana University School of Medicine and the IU School of Nursing.

In addition to holding advanced degrees, staff are also Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, Certified Disability Sport Specialists, and certified in adapted SCUBA Diving. Support staff are typically undergraduate and graduate students preparing for careers in Medicine, Nursing, Recreation Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Child Life, Social Work, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Special Education, and Pharmacy.

Recreation Therapy Sections