Friday, May 25, 2012
Camps for kids with special needs: Max is doing two!
Max's summer plans are set: He's returning to the one-week camp for kids with special needs that he went to last year, and loved. I'm particularly excited about the inclusive day camp he'll also be attending. He's going to miss two weeks of his school summer program, but Dave and I decided it was worth it—both for the inclusionary experience and for fun.
I was so psyched to find this program, because they're rare. While it's possible to work out an arrangement with a local day camp, several told me I'd need provide the aide and I wasn't sure I could find someone great. A couple of times, the fact that Max isn't full potty-trained was non-negotiable. This camp provides a "shadow" who will help with caregiving and keep an eye on Max, but she'll seem like just another counselor to other kids. This camp is really bent on making sure kids with special needs seamlessly fit in.
I got to meet Max's shadow this week at a pre-camp meeting. She's a college sophomore studying neuroscience who has childcare experience, and she seemed all kinds of awesome. I gave her the rundown on Max's likes and dislikes, gushed about how social he is, promised her she'd fall in love with him. I've already asked the director I can also shadow/spy on Max at some point when he's there; I'm so eager to see how things are going to go.
At the meeting, all parents were asked to fill out a "Hopes and Dreams" sheet. I wrote, "Max has never participated in an inclusive program before. What I most want is for him to have fun playing with other kids, interact with them and communicate with them—and for them to do it right back."
Below, some resources for finding local camps for kids with special needs. There might still be spots open but if not, at least you can scout ones for next summer.
Very Special Camps lists camps and programs for people with special needs around the country; you can browse by disability or by state.
KidsCamps.com also lists camps by state and specifies the types of disabilities accommodated.
My Summer Camps lists camps by disability, which you can then filter by state.
Easter Seals Disability Services has 140 accessible camps around the country—for adults, too.
Family Village has a lengthy list of camps and programs nationwide.
Therapy/Respite Camps for Kids has a list divvied up by region.
Cristo Vive International provides camp programs for children with disabilities around the world; there are a few locations in this country.
Foundation For Jewish Camp has a list of camps for Jewish children with special needs.