About Harbor Haven

Harbor Haven’s unique concept of providing children with mild special needs a summer of growth, was conceived in 1996, and had its premiere summer in 1997

Robyn Tanne, a special educator since 1977, and camp owner/educator Dr. Skip Vichness, saw the need for a comprehensive place in the summer months, just right for children with mild special needs.  Harbor Haven was developed by Robyn and Skip along with other professionals in the field of special education.  Harbor Haven’s philosophy and mission involve immersing children in a naturally social setting where a high level of instruction and facilitation promote social, language, motor, cognitive and behavior skills.  One of our main focuses is building the social piece that is a deficit for most of our children due to their diagnosis.  The school year setting cannot always effect growth in this area because academics are the main goal. Harbor Haven is a truly unique setting----we bridge the gap between one school year and the next making us an appropriate summer experience for many children with special needs in not only preventing regression but promoting growth in all areas.

Harbor Haven is a 7 week co-ed summer program for 3-15 year olds with mild special needs. For the 16-18 year old LIFE Program click here.  For the 16-18 year old TRAVELQUEST Program click here.

Harbor Haven is located in West Orange,  New Jersey, in a beautiful private school campus. We are fortunate to be on eight acres of beautiful property, which includes a pool as well as athletic fields.  While the majority of camp activities take place outdoors, the setting boasts an air-conditioned building where inside activities take place.

Our staff includes a full time registered nurse, special education and other types of education professionals, a licensed clinical social worker or pychologist, certified lifeguards, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and college and graduate level students.  

In a world that values education, Harbor Haven helps to educate the whole child.

Our program is dedicated to the concept that all children benefit from the magic of summer activities. We have combined the most important elements of traditional summer activities with structured support, helping our youngsters to maintain and expand social, educational and communication skills.

We provide continuous opportunities for each child to grow, explore, develop new skills and form friendships, all within a safe, nurturing and accepting environment. Harbor Haven serves as a bridge between one school year and the next, offering a valuable way to prevent regression in children with learning, social and communication issues.  We are aided in achieving excellent individual outcomes by paralleling goals established in each camper’s I.E.P.

Children attend from 9 am to 3:30 pm (3 and 4 year-olds can choose a 9-1:30 option).  Centralized location transportation on air-conditioned buses is available in most cases.

Testimonials about Harbor Haven:

“Your program is life-changing!  In just 5 short weeks you have given our son his smile back.  He is a changed little guy; full of confidence and new skills.  This is priceless!”

 “Our son loved Harbor Haven! Even better, he experienced very little regression when school started again in September, which was a huge improvement from the previous year. I have no doubt that the structure and social interaction he experienced at Harbor Haven was a huge factor in that positive turn.”

“The day we discovered your incredible camp was one of our luckiest days. I just wanted you to know that you have touched our family in a very special way and we are so grateful for all of your efforts and love.”

When I asked him why he liked HH so much he said it was because his counselors complimented him a lot and that gave him the confidence to try new things.  Their encouragement and support helped him achieve a huge goal-to ride a bike- a highlight of our summer.  Thank you!”

“Thank you very much for taking care of me and my friends.  Thanks for the best 10 summers of my life at Harbor Haven. (From a camper)”