With the camp already a successful part of the local community, the founders of the Camp Venture organization shifted their focus to the plight of New York State’s developmentally disabled citizens living in state institutions, and on efforts to develop community-based alternatives to institutions. A petition drive initiated by the Camp Venture group, which gathered 29,000 signatures, was a key impetus in ending a hiring freeze in state institution system that had cost the lives of countess residents.
In 1976, Camp Venture opened the Venture Inn Community residence. A groundbreaking program in the Rockland County community, the facility was the first building constructed as a community-based group home in New York State.
With the Venture Inn program, the grass roots organization had become a service agency with a 24/7 responsibility.
In the ensuing years, Camp Venture went on to develop a number of community residences. And, in spite of the goodwill garnered by the Summer Camp, nearly all these homes were bitterly opposed by neighbors and local government officials. In the course of this development, both Mrs. Lukens and John Murphy faced angry crowds at Town Board meetings, and received numerous threats. In spite of this hostile climate, Camp Venture President John Murphy ran and was elected as a pro-group home political candidate. It was not until New York State passed the Patavan Law, named for its author, State Senator Frank Patavan, that a legal framework existed to defend the housing rights of people with developmental disabilities in New York State.
In 1982, Venture Industries, the agency’s sheltered industry, moved to a permanent home on the property adjoining the Summer Camp. Two years later, Camp Venture acquired the former Rosary Academy High School for its Day Treatment program. Along with the creation of new residences, Camp Venture by this time had established itself as an Adult Day Service provider.
Through the 1980’s Camp Venture continued to develop new residences and by the latter part of the decade, the creation of Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) programs made possible a community life for people with more severe developmental disabilities.
Later in the 1990’s, the agency continued to grow and opened several landmark programs and new facilities. These initiatives included a specialized Alzheimer’s Residential program and an Independent Living Center apartment complex. An indoor therapeutic pool complex is also built around this time, largely realized with fund-raised dollars. “the Pond of the 200,000” was built as a community project and serves Camp Venture programs as a pond and park, but also stands as a memorial commemorating the victims of the Nazi eugenics program.
With the advent of New York State’s Home and Community based Medicaid Waiver, Venture was able to offer Individual Residential Alternatives (IRA) residences, which made possible smaller, more family-like residential opportunities. With the Waiver, Camp Venture opened the Venture Select program, which was one of the State’s first Day Habilitation programs. Also, we were able to offer Medicaid Service Coordination, an information and referral service for families.