Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Choosing a Summer Camp for Your Special Needs Child

Since all children are different, summer camp experiences can vary.  And, choosing a summer camp for your special needs child can seem overwhelming.

Summer camp options are as plentiful and unique as your child’s interests and abilities.  So, how is a parent to decide?
Here are a few tips to consider as you hunt for the perfect camp for your special needs child:

·    Plan a pre-camp visit.  Tour the summer camp venue, meet the staff and allow your child to ask questions that are important to him/her.  If your child feels comfortable in the surroundings, he/she will be excited to try new experiences and will look forward to attending camp.

·    During the visit, be very open and transparent about your child’s special needs. It’s the best way to ensure a good camp fit for your child.

·    Ask about camp’s philosophy.  Is it one you're comfortable with as a parent? Is it a good match for your child's temperament?

·    Inquire about the counselor-to-camper ratio.  The leader-to-child ratio will vary, depending on the type of camp and the age of the children.  Mainstream camps usually have one counselor for every 6-10 campers; the ratio at special-needs camps is often closer to 1:3. The higher the ratio, the more opportunities counselors have to work with kids on an individual basis.

·    Ask about the qualifications of the staff.  Do the counselors have a background in the camp’s area of focus?  Do the staff members hold educational degrees and/or work in that field? Have they taught children previously?

The right camp can help a child become more socially adept, improve self-esteem and often interested in new activities. So, selecting a camp for your child is important.  Include your child in the process!  Ask what camp activities are important to him/her and invite your child to attend camp visits with you.  This way, your child can ask camp personnel questions, meet the staff before the first day of camp and have the opportunity to meet other new campers during Open Houses.
Happy summer camp hunting!

Register for one of Fitness for Health’s special needs summer camps by April 16 and receive $50 off.  This year, Fitness for Health will offer three camps:
·   “B” Social Summer Mini Camp – This camp for ages 4-10 will integrate Social Thinking® and movement in collaboration with Sue Abrams, M.A., CCC-SLP, a Speech/Language Pathologist. Concepts will be introduced in a fun and motivating way encouraging participants to explore and improve their social thinking skills and motor development.

·    “B” Social Teen Summer Mini Camp – This camp is specifically geared for ages 11-13 and 14-16.  It integrates Social Thinking® and movement as with the camp above, but with a focus on teens.

·    Occupational Therapy SpOrTs Camp - Your child will have a blast while working on his/her fine and gross motor development, cognitive and visual motor skills, as well as his/her functional performance in sports and leisure play.

Visit the “Promotions” area of www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn more and to register.

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