Summer camps are popular for children and their parents. It often gives a chance to spend time outdoors or pursuing a favorite sport, such as tennis, football, hockey, etc. and even academics. There are camps for almost any need, including day camps, overnight camps, and even camps overseas.
There are also camps for children with special needs, including diabetes, autism, asthma, cancer, tourettes, epilepsy and those with physical disabilities or developmental delays. These camps can help children learn more about their medical condition, and more importantly, meet other kids with similar problems and help build their self esteem.
How do you find a summer camp for your child with special needs? Your doctor, especially if you are seeing a specialist, should be aware of camps in your area that your child could attend.
Of course, you could also look online. The American Camping Association has a useful search feature, where you can input your child's medical condition and what state or region you would like to find a camp in.
Here are some popular summer camps for children with medical problems and/or special needs, although this does not represent an endorsement of these camps. Instead, it is just meant to illustrate the types of camps that are available for children with special needs.
- Camp Sweeny: A camp in North Texas designed specifically for children with diabetes. In addition to the usual activities many summer camps have, such as archery, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, swimming, soccer, tennis and water polo, children at Camp Sweeny learn how to independently manage diabetes.
- Camp Hobe: A special summer camp experience designed for children currently being treated for cancer, as well as their siblings. Located in Utah.
- Camp SOAR: A wilderness adventure program for children with ADHD or learning disabilities.
- Camp Barnabas: A summer camp in Missouri with sessions for children with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, post traumatic burns, blood disorders and oncology, visual and hearing impairments, and a general med. camp (any medical disability).
- Mid Atlantic Burn Camp: A camp to assist young burn survivors from the Mid-Atlantic region and their families in their adjustment to injury by providing an annual therapeutic residential summer camp and other year-round activities that support their physical, psychological, and social needs.
- Camp Royall: A residential summer camp for individuals with autism from the Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC) Summer Camp Program.
- Courage Camps: Courage Camps offer safe, accessible, natural environments where children and adults with physical disabilities, sensory and language impairments, and other disabilities or illnesses discover abilities they never knew they had or they thought they had lost.
What should you look for in a summer camp for children with medical problems or special needs? One of the most important things you should look for is that there is constant medical supervision. A medical professional should be available at the camp at all times. Other things you should look for before sending your child to camp include:
- Is your child is ready to or does he want to go away to camp?
- Will he be able to continue taking his daily medicines?
- What is the procedure if your child develops a complication of his medical problem?
- Is the camp accredited by the American Camping Association?
- How well supervised will your child be? What is the ratio of campers to staff? What kind of training do the staff have?
- Is financial support or assistance available if you can not afford to send your child to camp?
A checkup with your Pediatrician before your child attends camp may also be helpful.