by LIZ ONUFER | photo by Forever Photography by Liberty

More than Summer Camp

volunteer_kelly2Katie Kelly knows the power in connecting with young people and creating a community of belonging. As a teacher and camp director, her influence is felt from the classroom to the campfire. In addition to her work as a first grade teacher at Willow Grove Elementary School, Katie is the founder of Camp Kinneloa, a residential camp serving children with Type 1 diabetes.

Katie’s inspiration to start Camp Kinneloa was born of her own experience as a child. She has Type 1 diabetes and attended diabetes camp. “There was a delightfully refreshing sense of ‘normalcy’ there as I found myself in a crowd of kids with Type 1,” she acknowledged. “I remember leaving camp feeling empowered. There was a newfound motivation behind taking care of myself, knowing that my friends were headed home to do the same.” This experience as a child, combined with her nine summers of working at Outpost Summer Camps as a counselor and director, has led Katie to open Camp Kinneloa. “I wanted to share this life-changing experience with as many people as possible,” she shared.

Name: Katie Kelly
Community: Scripps Ranch
Profession: Teacher/Camp Director
Family: Husband – Patrick Kelly
Hobbies & Interests: Concerts, running, bike rides, baseball games, kickboxing

Name: Camp Kinneloa
Purpose: Camp Kinneloa is a residential summer camp in San Diego for kids with Type 1 diabetes. Kinneloa provides opportunities for campers to build relationships, experience independence, and gain freedom by embracing diabetes.

volunteer_kelly3Katie’s work as camp director mirrors her philosophy in her first grade classroom. “I love building relationships with my students and creating a community that feels like a place of belonging for them,” she shared. “One of the most rewarding parts is seeing their confidence develop as they learn and grow.” Of course, just as with summer camp, there is no shortage of adventure, she noted. “Working with six and seven year olds provides you plenty of entertaining stories as well!”

Katie is surrounded by a family who understands the hurdles in the classroom and camp. Her husband, Patrick, is a special education teacher at Santana High School in Santee. Katie’s sister and brother-in-law are the owners of Outpost Summer Camps. “Apparently, camp runs in the family!” she said.

“I wanted to share this life-changing experience with as many people as possible.”

volunteer_kelly4Camp Kinneloa will hold its first camp session from June 24 to 29 at the Cuyamaca Retreat Center. The camp is currently looking for volunteer counselors and medical staff. Learn more about how to get involved at