What if you and your “hippie” camp friends changed the world? This joyful 2020 documentary shows how teenagers and counselors from Camp Jened, a summer camp for disabled people established in 1951, carried their experience of independence, inclusion, and friendship into adulthood to spark a movement. At Camp Jened, a camper was “just a kid” to play music, float in the pool, or try out a summer romance or two. “What we saw at camp was that our lives could be better,” shared writer/director and former camper James Lebrecht. This breakthrough was revolutionary at a time of profound discrimination. Outside of camp, people with disabilities did not have the right to accessible transportation or schooling. In the 1970s, Camp Jened community members would organize, participate and lead demonstrations—including an epic, weeks-long sit-in with supporters ranging from the local government to the Black Panther Party—that ultimately was part of a larger disability rights movement. Crip Camp’s power is its ability to personalize the fight for social justice—to show that self-acceptance can be a radical act that builds communities and advances meaningful social change.
Sign up for our free newsletter
Subscribe to the NPQ newsletter to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.