The Avanti Camp model was conceived and developed by Patricia Wilbarger in the early 1980's. The camps were designed as an intensive sensory integration and occupational therapy treatment experience for children and as an advanced training program for therapists.
The first camp, Avanti...Camp Cachuma was held in 1983. Co-directed by Patricia and Julia Wilbarger, the camp was held in the mountains behind Santa Barbara, California. The camp was run in California until Camp Cachuma was sold in 1989 and no new suitable location was found. In 1989, though, the Avanti Camp model was kept alive by Eileen Richter and Nancy Lawton-Shirley who given permission to replicate the model in Hudson WI at Camp St. Croix. In 1990, Julia Wilbarger joined the team. Camp Avanti St. Croix operated successfully until 2009. Avanti has a new program at Camp Avanti Icaghowan directed by Kris Worrell who has over 25 years of experience working in the Avanti model.
The Avanti Camps have had a major influence on the practice of occupational therapy and sensory integration within the United States and around the world. Some of the most innovative techniques and theories used in pediatric occupational therapy were developed and expanded in the camps. For example, the concept of therapy intensives emerged from the recognition of the power on emersion in the therapeutic process. The Therapressure Program (developed by Patricia Wilbarger) was introduced to the larger occupational therapy community at Avanti...Camp Cachuma. Avanti also brought an innovative training model for therapists. The instructors for the practicum course held each year at Avanti Camps are among the acknowledged world experts in sensory integration. Many of the practicum therapists who have participated in the educational experience at Camp Avanti over the years have become leaders and experts in the field of occupational therapy.
Avanti Educational Programs continues to support the Avanti camps a promote the mission by providing continuing education in treatments for sensory processing disorders.