UMass Boston



Camp PALS is a one-week sleepaway camp for young adults with Down syndrome held at various colleges around the country. Campers and volunteer counselors room together for the week in the college dormitories and participate in fun activities and trips in the hosting city. Camp PALS’ mission is to create immersive experiences where individuals with Down syndrome and their peers have fun, grow as individuals, and build transformative friendships. PALS fosters close connections and a sense of belonging, built around quality, accepting and caring people.

The partnership with PALS Programs represents a new avenue in which the CSDE is expanding its expertise in applied research and program evaluation. PALS Program is an organization with a mission akin to Special Olympics, and its goal is to change perspectives about people with Down syndrome through relationships built on shared experiences. It is this similarity to Special Olympics—along with PALS Programs’ familiarity with CSDE’s work in this area—that brought PALS Programs to CSDE. Camp PALS began in 2004 and as it carries out its 15th year, PALS Programs staff look to expand the internal evaluation they have been conducting. PALS Programs staff reached out to the CSDE for assistance developing new survey questions for volunteers and with analyzing and interpreting the resulting survey data. In this way, the CSDE is assisting a community organization to better understand the qualities and characteristics of young adults who choose to volunteer with people with disabilities by designing and carrying out a rigorous, matched pre-test/post-test online survey for over 13 camp locations and over 650 volunteers.


Read the evaluation here: 2018 Evaluation Report

Learn more about Camp PALS by visiting their website:

Center for Social Development and Education

10th Floor, Healey Library,
100 Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125 USA