Summer camp provides a host of benefits for children of all ages. For children with special needs, those benefits account for even more. Rare opportunities to excel and exciting new ways to experience the world only scratch the surface of the benefits available to campers with (or even without) special needs. Even parents can take advantage of the benefits including the chance to rest during respite care. For good reason, both campers and parents look forward to the summer camp experience every year.
Enjoying Rare Opportunities to Win
Rich with the same opportunities as traditional camp, modified to the camper’s needs, summer camp for children with special needs levels the playing field to give campers a unique chance to shine. Competing on more even ground, campers discover exciting and rare chances to win and come out on top. Small victories instill the confidence for campers to try new things only dreamed of before the summer camp experience.
Exciting New Ways to Experience the World
Beyond discovering newfound confidence, campers with special needs broaden their worldview with exposure to other children, animals, sports and activities. Children with disabilities bond with children with similar disabilities. Even children without special needs expand their worldview with exposure to special needs children. Summer camp helps bridge the gap between typically developing kids and kids with special needs, connecting children of all ability levels in ways regular schooling may fall short.
Balance of Structure & Freedom
A daily routine complete with structured activities is good for anyone. Combining a break from regular visits to doctors and therapists, the balance of structure and freedom available to campers with special needs — especially in an overnight program — promotes positive practices that carry over outside of the camp environment and into everyday life. The daily balance available at camp is both rare and invaluable for children with disabilities.
Physical Activity & Exercise
Few special needs children get the chance to regularly engage in gym class or take part in sports teams. The same children often miss out on the proven physical and emotional advantages linked to running and other outdoor activities. More than just encourage movement and increased activity, sports and physical exercise boost problem-solving and communication skills.
Summer camps with special accommodations and activities for children with special needs promote a more enriching experience. From riding bikes to playing baseball, physical activity and exercise introduces a host of health benefits and good feelings a regular schooling environment may fail to deliver. More than just fun, summer camp is both healthy and therapeutic.
Developing Friendships & Social Skills
Special needs children often miss valuable opportunities for healthy interaction. The limited social sphere common to children with special needs makes summer camp an exciting and rare opportunity for campers to develop friendships, experiment with social interaction and generally expand their social skills.
An appropriate and enjoyable experience to share with peers, camp provides a social structure comparable to a school setting in a more fun and engaging environment, especially for children with special needs.
Summer camp draws shy kids out of their shells and creates bonds among kids who typically experience a hard time making friends. The recipe for success is simple: put children with similar disabilities together with a support staff specially trained to get children out of their comfort zone and try new things. The end result is good old-fashioned summertime fun.
Respite Care for Parents
Parenting children with special needs is hard. Many parents would benefit from time alone to rest, whether part of the day for a drop-off camp or for weeks at a time during sleep-away camp. A short break from the traditional schedule can also build a sense of independence in the child, strengthening the bond between child and parent.
Making Progress Towards New Goals
For many children, summer camp is a year-to-year experience. Visiting the same camp every summer brings true progress to the surface. Simply by learning to take on a daily schedule without the need for helpers or aids — and building awareness of this accomplishment — instills tremendous confidence in children with special needs.
Summer camp for children with special needs offers all the same exciting opportunities: campfire singalongs, team-oriented games, nature walks and most importantly, making new friends. Camp sends children a special message: “I am not alone” — which not only boosts their confidence but also creates happy memories to last for the rest of their lives.
Looking Forward to the Next Year
Special needs children often live a sheltered life. Summer camp helps them learn to do things on their own and experience the world in new ways. Parents also learn to let go a little, which can further instill a sense of independence in their child.
More than an outlet for fun and recreation, summer camp provides a chance for children to continue their education and therapy goals while learning important life skills along the way
More than just skills, children take home new friends and fond memories. An exciting break from their normal routine, children look forward to coming back to summer camp year after year.