About Us

Exceptional Citizens’ Week at Camp Fatima is a co‐ed week long camp for children and adults ages 9+ (campers) with intellectual and/or physical challenges including, but not limited to Intellectual Disability, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Angelman Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Each camper receives one‐to‐one care and experiences a week of horseback riding, swimming, boating, arts and crafts, and many more special events that they otherwise may not be able to enjoy. The 300+ dedicated volunteers and many generous donors allow EC Week to offer this great week to over 170 campers at no cost to campers’ families and caregivers. The camp is wheelchair accessible and provides an on-site healthcare team available 24/7.

EC Week is a non-sectarian outdoor camping experience sponsored by the Diocese of Manchester. It is held every year at Camp Fatima, a 150-acre, fully-accredited camp on Upper Suncook Lake in Gilmanton Iron Works, New Hampshire.

EC Week is entirely free for the campers. Funded by generous contributions, both large and small, from many different individuals and companies.

“What a great idea it would be to allow these children the same camping experience as other kids.”

That was the idea discussed more than 50 years ago by Bill Haller, President of The United Life and the father of a child with Down’s syndrome, Dr. Tom Walker, a pediatrician at St. Paul’s School, and Rev. Richard O. Boner, Associate Pastor at St. John’s Parish in Concord, New Hampshire who were talking about a camp for children with intellectual disabilities. Father Boner, who founded Camp Fatima for Boys, began to work on the idea and in 1954, Exceptional Citizens’ (EC) Week was born.

Without much experience working with children with intellectual disabilities, EC Week volunteers teamed up with student nurses from Sacred Heart Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, a group of Sisters of Mercy, a group of Sisters of St. Francis and seminarians from St. John’s Seminary. Their goal was to provide a fun, rewarding camp experience for 25 boys and girls.

EC Week has grown since that first year to include more than 170 campers and more than 300 volunteers each year from around the country. The idea Mr. Haller, Dr. Walker and Father Boner tossed around more than five decades ago has turned into a ‘unique week’ treasured by many exceptional citizens, parents, and volunteers. It has also spurred the formation of similar camps nationwide.

EC Week is a highlight in the lives of campers every year. Each camper is treated as an exceptional citizen. All of the activities are centered around the camper’s interests and they are catered to by a qualified, enthusiastic and energetic volunteer staff, many of whom also consider the week a highlight in their year, and their lives. The counselors combine talents with the camp’s ample facilities to create a diverse and memorable program. The campers enjoy activities that they might otherwise never have the opportunity to try.