Parents are often bombarded with advertisements for summer camps, and it’s true there are numerous camps to choose from. The decision to send your child to a special needs summer camp might not be easy, especially when you must weigh the benefits versus the cost and potential problems. For parents who have not yet had a summer camp experience for their child, finding the right camp can be an anxiety-provoking and exhausting process. Budget is certainly a concern, but you should also consider the great advantages of special needs camps:
- Special needs camps offer a balance of structure and freedom. Overnight camps, if your child is ready for one, gives the child some freedom and a break from regular visits to doctors and therapists. Structured activities and a daily routine encourage positive practices even outside of the camp.
- They provide activity and exercise. Many activities improve problem-solving and communication skills. Sports and other physical activities encourage movement and increased activity — few special needs children get the chance to regularly engage in sports and related activities.
- Kids are given the opportunity to develop friendships and learn appropriate social interaction. Special needs children do not always receive healthy interaction, but camps dedicated to special needs gives them the chance for appropriate and enjoyable experiences with their peers.
- Many special needs camps include educational experiences in addition to other activities. These experiences help children catch up on school subjects over summer.
- Parents get a break. We know parenting special needs kids is hard; sleep-away camps give you some time alone to rest, and even drop-off camps allow you part of the day to take for yourself.
Think about your child’s goals and how many of them can be met with a special needs camp. If cost is an issue, look into camps that offer payment programs or scholarships. Set aside a fund for next year. Talk to other parents who have send their special needs children to summer camps — most parents and children speak very highly of their experiences, and these testimonials can help you pick the right camp. When your child’s goals are being met, often above and beyond your expectations, the advantages of special needs camps far outweigh the disadvantages.
Photos by stevendepolo and VIU-CSR