Kids love summer camp. For most, it is a treasured memory and a time of independence, fun, friendship, and growth. The good news for parents who have a child with a disability is that summer camp is a possibility for your child, too.
At first, the thought of sending your child off to camp for a week might be frightening and seem impossible. Be assured, there are camps for everyone. These camps are staffed with nurses, doctors, counselors, and other staff who are specially trained to support those with disabilities.
And the truth is, your child is more ready for camp than you realize. Research and register early because camps fill up in early spring.
Consider these things when researching:
What type of camp is best and will be most enjoyable for your child? Camps are either inclusive or specialized. Inclusive camps are those that bring together kids with and without disabilities. For many kids, this is an ideal set-up that provides lots of interaction and chances for kids to enjoy each other.
Specialized camps focus on kids that have a specific or similar disability, diagnosis, or situation. For example: camps for siblings, children with chronic illness, or kids with a cancer diagnosis.
Camp features and focus are important to consider also. Some take place mostly outdoors, while others are concentrated indoors. Some camps focus on specific things such as mobility, communication, augmentative communication or behavior. You can search for camp on this website by going to Find Services, Groups, and Events.
Some camps are just for a weekend. Others are a week long. There are some camps that last one day, an afternoon, or several afternoons. Searching for camps on this website will yield more than 400 different options for camps. You are sure to find something perfect for your child.
Some camps offer 1:1 counselor/camper ratio. Other camps offer that ratio only as needed. You can find information about ratio on the camp website. Feel free to ask questions or make requests if the ratio isn’t stated clearly.
Camps offer a variety of activities. Be sure the camp offers activities that your child will enjoy and be open to the fact that your child may enjoy something that you don’t think they can or will enjoy. That’s the beauty of specialized camps and staff. They are experienced with helping kids enjoy the activities.
NavigateLifeTexas.org includes camps all over Texas and across the USA. Consider whether the distance to travel is feasible for your family.
Some camps are free of charge for kids with a disability. Other camps offer some financial assistance. Some camps have a set price that everyone pays. Cost information is usually listed on the camp website. Be sure and contact the camp if you have questions and don’t hesitate to ask if they offer financial help if you need it.
Consider trying a respite weekend or afternoon camp first to see how your child responds. Knowing and being informed will help you decide on what will work best and be the most fun for your child.
Inclusion has its challenges. Here's one mom's story about how her daughter, who struggles with social situations and impulsivity, has a best friend who is patient with her.
A mom writes a letter to her son’s Admission, Review, and Dismissal Committee (ARD) members about her son’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).