Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Camp Koinonia

Contact Information

The Camp Koinonia
HPER Building 362
1914 Andy Holt Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996


Kelsey Webb:
Jason Scott, PhD


Camp Koinonia is an outdoor education program that serves campers ages 7-21 with multiple disabilities. The program was developed in 1977 at Virginia Tech as part of a class with the primary purpose of providing a meaningful, experiential learning opportunity for university students while involving youth and young adults, some with severe disabilities, in outdoor activities that they would not be able to participate in otherwise. This service-learning and experiential education opportunity continues to be available to University of Tennessee students across campus. A three credit-hour class meets every Thursday in the spring to prepare for their week at camp. During the first year of the program, a counselor/camper duo submitted the winning name for the program – Camp Koinonia. Koinonia (“kwan-a-nee-yah”) comes from the Greek and means “fellowship” and “caring community.” Since that time the purpose and mission of Camp Koinonia has been to provide a “caring community” for our campers in a sense of true “fellowship.” It is also said of Camp Koinonia that this is “an experience that will last a lifetime,” which has proven true for hundreds of individuals over the years.

Camp Koinonia 2024 Dates:
April 14th – April 19th

Our Goals

1. To provide each camper with an educational and fun oriented experience in an outdoor environment.
2. To provide an educational experience for each university student involved in the program.
3. To provide an enriching, rewarding experience to foster the emotional, social, and physical well-being of each camper.
4. To emphasize appropriate socialization in terms of playing and working together.
5. To emphasize what the camper can do rather than what he/she cannot do.
6. Provide programs that are within the range of abilities of each camper.

The program is offered through the Therapeutic Recreation program that is housed in our department. College students from a variety of academic programs participate in the course, especially in Therapeutic Recreation, Special Education, Child and Family Studies, and Psychology. This 14 week course is devoted to facilitating the students’ understanding of working with children with disabilities before actually conducting the week long Camp Koinonia experience. RSM 326 is a Vol Core course meeting the Engaged Inquiry component

The campers at Camp Koinonia come for a variety of special education programs and schools across the state of Tennessee, most coming from Knox, Blount, and Anderson counties. Campers can first attend at the age of 7 and are eligible to attend until they graduate from high school. The program is primarily geared toward those who do not typically have the opportunity to attend these types of programs. Disabilities include Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability, and others.

Programmed activities include canoeing, arts and crafts, sports and recreation, music and movement, mad science, outdoor adventure, exercise and wellness, come on down (a game show style activity), and give back (campers have the opportunity to participate in service-learning projects). Special events occur every night at camp and include a bonfire, socials, game nights, movies, a talent show, and everyone’s favorite: the dance! Each activity is developed and implemented by 2-3 UT students, who are known as camp’s Activity Staff. Activity Staff raise funds and gladly receive donations to purchase materials and supplies for each activity.

The Clyde M. York, 4-H Training Center is an accessible facility located in Crossville, TN. Cabins include bunk beds, showers, and restroom facilities.

The campers and staff will have three hot, well-balanced meals daily, prepared by the 4-H Center’s cooking staff. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the dining hall where tables are separated into cabin groups. Trivia, joke-telling, and small games may be played to determine the order in which cabin groups are chosen to get in line to get their food.

Please notify us of any food allergies or dietary restrictions your camper may follow. Unfortunately, 4-H is not always able to accommodate all food allergies. Please be prepared to bring meals and snacks for your camper in case we are unable to fully accommodate any food allergies/dietary needs.

There will be at least two medical personnel on the premises 24 hours a day to administer medications and first aid. A medical facility is located within 10 miles of the 4-H Center. Our medicine administration is run by a team of nurses, med-certified staff, and University of Tennessee nursing students, who will help provide care and administer medications under the supervision of their clinical instructors. Each camper’s medicines are carefully sorted, labeled, and distributed on time.

It is required that you bring your camper’s medications in their original bottles with instructions on how to administer them, dosage, and specific times to be administered.

We are pleased to announce that the cost for each camper to attend Camp Koinonia is only $480.00 for the entire week! Over recent years, the costs of planning, operating, and executing camp have increased considerably. The actual cost for one camper to attend is about $1,000.00. UT students are charged a fee of $150 to participate. Aside from the camper and counselor fees, 100% of the costs of Camp Koinonia are paid for by the fundraising accomplished by students and the Camp Koinonia Foundation. We would like to thank all who graciously provide financial support to Camp Koinonia.

Camp Koinonia Assistantship

The graduate student selected for this assistantship is responsible for Camp Koinonia initiatives/programs. This student is passionate about continually improving all aspects of Camp Koinonia.

Jay Hoppes

Jay is from Taylorsville, North Carolina and graduated from Appalachian State University in December 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in health studies. He discovered his passion for working with individuals with disabilities by working as a camp counselor and director for KE Camps in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. This will be his first year on the TREE team where he will be pursuing his master’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation. When Jay is not in the office, you can find him playing volleyball, reading, or exploring Knoxville.

“Camp Koinonia, home away from home. When I gave my love, I found my own.”