Compassionate Care

Winter Wonderland

Kids participate in snow sports at Un-Limb-ited Camp in Salt Lake City.

Shriners Children’s ski camps give kids much more than a day on the slopes

Camps at Shriners Children’s allow patients of all abilities the opportunity to experience the thrill of winter sports. Our Twin Cities and Salt Lake City locations offer programs that give kids the chance to have fun, make friends, build confidence and, of course, do a little shredding.

A place for kids to relate

Shriners Children’s Twin Cities offers two winter camp opportunities: downhill skiing for patients with limb differences and Nordic skiing for patients of all abilities. While the camps are held in Minnesota, just south of the Twin Cities, they draw families from South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Kids form long-lasting friendships at Camp Achieve in the Twin Cities.

“It’s always amazing to me when families travel great distances so their kids can attend our camps. They recognize the importance of their child being surrounded by other kids with similar challenges, which is always by far my favorite part of camp,” said Maureen Johnston, child life specialist and camp director. “After running camps for more than 20 years, I see one common theme – friendship. I’m always inspired as I watch kids come together and cheer everyone on as they master a skill or encourage each other to get up and try again if they fall. Watching kids with similar physical differences teach one another new ways to accomplish tasks in unique ways is amazing.”

Nordic Ski camp is led by BethAnn Chamberlin, a U.S. Biathlon Paralympic development coach, and is supported by Paralympic athletes. A typical day has campers going from station to station doing drills, racing and learning cross-country ski techniques.

At the 2023 session, downhill ski day brought morning temperatures of minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but it didn’t slow down the 75 campers and volunteers on the mountain. After taking breaks to warm up, the kids were eager to return to the slopes as quickly as possible.

Adelaide has attended Twin Cities camps since she was 5.

“The first time I was with other kids missing a limb was at Shriners Children’s camps,” said Adelaide, who has attended Shriners Children’s Twin Cities camps since she was 5. Now 16, attending camps is still one of her favorite things to do each year. “Winter events like downhill skiing and Nordic skiing are so much fun,” she added. “Shriners Children’s provides these activities so we have a chance to challenge ourselves, learn new skills and, most of all, have fun. Through camps, my confidence has grown, I have made new friends, and I have become a better team player. They have helped me grow as a person.”

Living life unlimited

At Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City, patient care extends to Utah’s snow-covered mountain tops; after all, one of the best ways to provide the most amazing care anywhere is with the greatest snow on earth!

Each year, Shriners Children’s patients with limb differences from across the U.S. gather at Park City Mountain Resort for a week of skiing and snowboarding at the Salt Lake City-based Un-Limb-ited Camp.

Un-Limb-ited Camp provides a place for these teens to get out of their comfort zones and develop life-long friendships with peers who can understand them better than most.

Campers celebrate their success on the slopes at Un-Limb-ited Camp.

At the 2023 camp, 19 patients took to the slopes equipped with adaptive gear such as monoskis, bi-skis, outriggers and one-on-one expert instruction from the National Abilities Center instructors at Park City Mountain Resort.

“We had several first-time skiers and snowboarders this year, and they have just taken off; it is a real testament to how well these kids can adapt,” said Walter Durtchi, Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City care manager and Un-Limb-ited Camp staff member. “Half the kids up here are better than I am; they are incredible!”

While the thrill of skiing and snowboarding is reason enough for teens to attend camp, what happens off the snow has the biggest impact. Staff and volunteers facilitate social activities to tackle common life-long issues, including recreation, relationships, body image, bullying and self-esteem.

“On a daily basis, I don’t get to have the opportunity to speak with other people and share my experience with other people who know how I feel and feel the exact same way,” said Tia, a Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City patient. “Being able just to text a friend I met at camp has been so helpful to me.”

Other campers described the friendships they made at Un-Limb-ited as their safe space and their own kind of support group.

“Life has thrown these kids some major curveballs, but they continue to push through and defy those odds. That’s what makes them unlimited,” said Laura Hollingshead, Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City recreational therapist and Un-Limb-ited Camp staff member.

Shriners Children’s mission is to provide kids with opportunities to reach their dreams and live without limits. For more information about camp opportunities, visit or contact your closest Shriners Children’s location.