Summer is an amazing opportunity for all children, especially those with a disability to experience freedom and get away from the confines of school and home. Camp offers a unique learning environment meant to foster individual growth and enhance self awareness. It’s a place where they can feel free to be themselves and find others to develop friendships with.
Picking a specialized camp for your child is not an easy decision. Everyone’s website and Facebook page looks great (intentionally). Those campers in those pictures had parents that found the right camp for them. How do you know if that camp is the right fit for you and what did they do?
Those parents checked to make sure that first and foremost the camp has all the right credentials: permit or license from a governing body of that state (often the Department of Health), American Camp Association Accreditation and glowing stamps of approval from known parents and campers. Then they made appointments with camps they were interested in. Most camps for children and adults with special needs require an interview before accepting campers. This is a great opportunity to set up a time to meet and discuss your child. The decision to send your child to a specific camp should be done involving both the director of that camp and the parent to make sure there is a good fit. It’s imperative that both sides are transparent with each other regarding needs and concerns. Questions should revolve around communication, hiring of staff, electronic policies, philosophies, and typical days. The more you both share, the more apparent it will be if it’s a good fit or not.
There is no doubt that there are benefits to sending your child to camp. Here are the reasons why it’s such an amazing decision that will earn you a parent of the year award:
- Your child will be fully included in real world experiences (inclusive environment) where learning occurs at their own individual pace.
- They will develop friendships with like-minded friends who can relate to them.
- There are opportunities to develop skills outside of home and school in a natural environment.
- They take a break from parents and parents take a break from the kids. This allows both to recharge and come back better than ever.
- There will be improvements in developing problem solving and critical thinking skills.
- Your child will increase their sense of self-worth and boost their self-esteem.
- They will get away from technology and become unplugged.
- It’s an amazing opportunity to develop their independence and build resilience in a safe environment.
- They will figure out who they are and embrace their identity.
- Your child will meet a plethora of role models from all over the world or at least outside of your neighborhood.
Camps cultivate self reliance, grow self confidence and allows us to challenge ourselves so we can learn and develop at our own pace. Camp prepares you for life.
Above all, your child is going to have a wonderful summer and be prepared for life because you chose to send them to camp.
This article was written by Alyssa Pecorino, Camper for Life and Executive Director of Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck in Center Moriches, NY.