Director Jim LeBrecht reveals what has become of the grounds in upstate New York.
- Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, the latest project from Barack and Michelle Obama's production company Higher Ground, is now available on Netflix.
- Directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht aimed to create a documentary that would highlight the history of the disability rights movement in the 1970s and Camp Jened's role in it.
- The original Camp Jened was a summer camp for teens with disabilities in upstate New York. It closed down in 1977.
When you watch Netflix's new documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, you'll undoubtedly be inspired and curious to learn more about the disability rights movement in the 1970s that eventually led to the passing of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After all, shining a light on this overlooked piece of history was a large goal for directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht (who stars in Crip Camp as a former camper).
"I think both of our hopes were that we could reframe how people think of disability and people with disabilities ... Maybe we should be treating people [and] thinking about people that are not like us in these fresh eyes and open minds, and realize that things are really not what they seem," Jim, who was born with spina bifida, tells Good Housekeeping about his desire for the documentary.
But apart from giving viewers a closer look into the lives and struggles of those with disabilities, Jim and Nicole also wanted to show how one summer camp for the disabled called Camp Jened encouraged greater action in the world. In the film, Jened is described as a space where teens with disabilities could escape their struggles and be themselves without fear of judgement. When Nicole first called up Judith Heumann, a key figure in Crip Camp and in the national disabilities rights movement, Judith told the director that she credits Jened's sense of community to inspiring some alumni to become activists.
"[Judy explained that] places like Camp Jened play an enormous role in sparking activism because they were the places where people gathered together and realized that they had similar problems and those problems were because of structural oppression," Nicole recalls.
So, whatever happened to Camp Jened?
Despite the film focusing on campers who attended Jened in the early 1970s, the camp actually opened at the foot of Hunter Mountain in upstate New York in 1951. Unfortunately, as we learn at the end of Crip Camp, Jened closed in 1977 due to financial issues. But what the film doesn't highlight is that Jened ended up reopening in Rock Hill, New York in 1980 and became part of the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State, according to Screen Rant. The site in Rock Hill eventually closed down as well, and now, there are talks of building a town park in the space.
Jim tells us that the last time he had visited Jened in its original location, prior to returning to film for the documentary, was in the summer of 1973. He never got to say a final goodbye to it before the grounds officially shut down. Now, Jim says it appears to be a service yard for a construction company.
"You recognize the land ... [but] you don’t see the buildings and also you don’t see the people. And there’s not this sense of joy and community, it’s just not there anymore," he recalls about returning back. "I don’t know if this sounds melodramatic but it’s almost like, we came into a gravesite, I think. You have love and respect, and bittersweet memories and some tears."
But while the physical camp may no longer exist, the lasting legacy of Jened will live on, as will his relationship with his fellow former campers and counselors.
"There’s an email list of about 48 people that have stayed in touch from New York to Israel to different places," Jim explains. "It's been really great to hear people and talk to folks and sharing experiences."
Senior Editor, Editorial Business Development
Kayla Keegan leads Good Housekeeping’s editorial growth strategies in the partnership, news, social, branded, membership and newsletter spaces. Prior to her new position, she was the Senior News and Entertainment Editor for the brand, covering and editing all things in the entertainment, pop culture and celebrity world forGood Housekeeping. She’s also worked as a social editor for House Beautiful and had previous writing stints at Redbook,CosmopolitanandSeventeen.
'9-1-1' Fans Can't Believe This Season 6 Update
Ben Affleck's Misery at Grammys Becomes Meme
How Taylor Reacted to Harry Being Heckled
See Pat Sajak's Reaction to 'WoF' Player Criticism
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
How does Jim Lebrecht describe Camp Jened? ›
Jim Lebrecht, born with spina bifida, was one of the campers: "Wow, Camp Jened was a place that was a utopia," he said. "It was a place where all of a sudden the rest of the outside world seemed to just disappear."Why did Jened camp close its doors? ›
In 1977, the camp closed due to financial difficulty. In 1980, Camp Jened reopened in Rock Hill, New York, and it became a part of the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State.What is important about Camp Jened? ›
Camp Jened was more than just your average summer camp. It served as a formative Summer experience for campers and counselors alike and became a key factor in the American disability rights movement. Located in upstate New York, Camp Jened was specifically designed for teens with disabilities.How was Camp Jened central to the disability rights movement? ›
Camp Jened provided a space for self-discovery for many teenagers and young adults with disabilities – a place where they could share common concerns and stories about living with a disability in a predominantly able-bodied world.What happened to Camp Jened? ›
So, whatever happened to Camp Jened? Despite the film focusing on campers who attended Jened in the early 1970s, the camp actually opened at the foot of Hunter Mountain in upstate New York in 1951. Unfortunately, as we learn at the end of Crip Camp, Jened closed in 1977 due to financial issues.What is the key message of Crip Camp? ›
Ultimately, “Crip Camp” has a universal message: Inspirations that begin in youth can lead to radical, world-changing results. At the end, a number of former campers reunite at the camp's unprepossessing present-day site. They see something more, and so will you.When was Camp Jened opened? ›
Opened in 1953 at the foot of Hunter Mountain, Camp Jened was a summer camp for people with disabilities that operated for almost 25 years.How do you feel after watching Crip Camp? ›
Watching Crip Camp was a reminder or perhaps for many who see this documentary, a discovery of the potential of spaces that are created by the community; the possibilities of care in these spaces and the imaginations and dreams that are built there.Who was the founder of Camp Jened? ›
'Crip Camp's Camp Jened was the brainchild of Larry Allison.
Something of a hippie in his own right, Larry says he conceived Jened as an "opportunity to try to do some different kinds of things." "When the camp started back in the '50s," he explains, "it was the traditional kind of camp program.
It banned discrimination against people living with disabilities in employment, housing and transportation.
What was the name of the camp in Crip Camp? ›
Premise. Crip Camp starts in 1971 at Camp Jened, a summer camp in New York described as a "loose, free-spirited camp designed for teens with disabilities".What is the point of camp names? ›
Part of their original purpose was practicality: staffers got camp names to prevent confusion. For example, there may be three “Sarahs” working camp, but there will only be one “Stargazer.”What happened at the end of Crip Camp? ›
In the final scenes, the surviving campers return to the site of Jened — bulldozed flat, with bulldozers still in evidence — and speak of kissing this hallowed ground. I didn't laugh. I doubt you will either. Crip Camp lives inside them and will now live in us.Is Crip Camp Based on a true story? ›
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, the April 2020 documentary from Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground Productions, tells the true story of how a summer camp for teenagers with physical and mental disabilities laid the groundwork for a civil rights victory.What was the significance of the disabled in action movement? ›
Led by Judy Heumann, Disabled In Action brought a new, confrontational style, a broader agenda, and a blunt assertion of the disabled community's claim to civil rights. Within a few years DIA became the defining voice of the New York City Disability Rights Movement.Who is the owner of Camp Ozark? ›
Sam and Susan Torn have been the owners and operators of Camp Ozark since 1985. Sam and Susan Torn have been the owners and operators of Camp Ozark since 1985.When did Judy Heumann go to Camp Jened? ›
Heumann's mother rallied against this policy with other parents who put enough pressure on the school to reverse the policy. Heumann entered high school in 1961. She attended Camp Jened, a camp for children with disabilities, in Hunter, New York every summer from ages 9 to 18.How old is camp Louise? ›
Built upon 100 years of experience and tradition, Camps Airy & Louise provides Jewish children with a fun, creative and adventurous summer experience that promotes self-growth, leadership, and a positive sense of Jewish identity – all while making friendships that last a lifetime.Who is considered the father of organized camping? ›
This type of recreation led to a more organized revolution of the activity thanks to Thomas Hiram Holding, later known as the “father of Modern Camping”.What camp is Crip camp based on? ›
The idea to make the film about Camp Jened started "with an off-hand comment at lunch." James LeBrecht had worked with Nicole Newnham for 15 years as a co-director. LeBrecht was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair to get around.
Was Judy Heumann a counselor at Camp Jened? ›
In James LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham's Crip Camp, Heumann is seen as one of the counselors at Camp Jened, a New York summer camp for teens with disabilities. Her tenure at Jened preceded her founding Disabled in Action and serving as special adviser on international disability rights for the U.S. State Department.