Tips for a Successful Summer Camp Experience for your Child with Disabilities or Developmental Needs

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Many kids (and their parents) are looking forward to camp this summer. Camp offers a unique experience for children and youth to have fun, make friends, get active (fitness), develop new skills (functioning) and make memories that last a lifetime (future). Most importantly, camp is fun!

For kids with disabilities and developmental needs, camp is a great place to experience these opportunities in new environments. Encouraging time outdoors, getting involved in activities away from computer screens and engaging with different peers, improves a child’s overall quality of life, setting them up for future success at home and school.

Tips for Camp Success:

1. Involve your child.
Consider their interests when choosing a camp. Ask them what types of camps they are interested in. Do they want to go to day camp or overnight? Consider their own unique interests like art, science, sports, etc. and go through the CTN camp guide together or drive past a few camps to explore the options in person.

2. Plan Early.
Many camps and funding opportunities are based on a first come, first served basis with limited spaces. Planning early can help ensure you get your top choice!

3. Consider the support needs of your child or youth.
What type of support does your child receive at school? If they require additional support at school or in social settings, chances are their needs will be similar at camp. Some camps are specialized and offer lower participant to counsellor ratios, while other camps may offer an inclusion 1:1 support worker. Whenever possible, err on the side of caution in terms of support. It is easier to scale back supports, if they aren’t needed, than it is to find additional supports when they haven’t been planned for.

4. Communication is key.
Provide the camp with the appropriate information regarding your child. Do they need help with transitions? Do they need adaptations? Do they use a communication device? Do you have safety concerns? Are there toileting or medical needs? The more specific information you provide to your camp, the better. It not only allows them the best opportunity to support your camper but also sets everyone up for the most successful summer camp experience possible.

5. Be Prepared.
You know your child or youth best. Follow their lead when preparing them for camp. Discuss their concerns (if they have any) and problem solve together as a family. You may also want to connect with the camp for support with this, if needed. They may have videos or photos to help prepare your child and get them excited for what lies ahead.

We hope your child has a very successful and fun camp experience this year!

For more tips and camp information, read our 2022 Summer Camp Guide, here.