SUmmer Camp special needs

Topics: Camping, Special education, Summer camp Pages: 8 (2395 words) Published: October 22, 2014

With the thought of summer camp comes the recollection of cabins filled overstuffed with bunk beds, campfires, and mess hall meals with the loads of friends we met at the opening dance. Summer camp is a childhood memory for many of us, one that changed our youth, usually for the better. Such camp memories and activities still hold true today, even for children with disabilities. The inclusive classroom that takes place during the school year has now begun to carry over into the summer months at camps across the country, whether they be overnight for the whole summer, day camps or weekend camps.

Residential camps may be one setting where children can develop greater personal and social maturity, according the Ann Fullerton, et al. article entitled The Impact of Camp Programs on Children with Disabilities: Opportunities for Independence. With that thought in mind the Americans for Disabilities Act now requires all camps to make reasonable accommodations so that children with special needs can attend. But some camps surpass this requirement by a long shot.

Inclusion has become quite a popular aspect of the general education schooling and so children with disabilities, learning, behavioral or physical among some, are now being placed in classrooms with their peers with no such needs. These children are given the chance to interact and experience things they would have never done at home perhaps or in a special education school. The same goes for summer camps these children may attend between June and August. As stated in a Washington Post article, “parents of special education students have long said their children are left in the lurch once school closes for the summer.” Summer camps across the country are beginning to bring together children with and without disabilities for memorable summer experiences. “The percentage of accredited camps that have tailored service for children with physical or mental disabilities has risen from 9 percent to 13 in the past two years”, states Harriet Gamble, director of communications for the American Camping Association.

Having accredited camps that blend children with and without disabilities provides an opportunity for new friendships to form and families to attend camp together. At Kamp A-Kom-Plish in Southern Maryland is where Tiffani Sterling-Davis sent her three children. Alayna and Julian checked into camp with sister Breanna, 11, who has Down syndrome. “’I don’t have to separate them,’” said their mother. ‘”They can learn together; they can be in a diverse environment together. It’s just really exciting for me.’”

When sending their child to school parents are often not too worried about their child and the activities they may embark on during the day. Summer camp seems to be a whole other story though. For many children with disabilities, camp is a new idea that brings with it some frightening notions, for parents and children alike. The idea that we are afraid of what we don’t know or understand seems to accompany this idea of attending summer camp. At home, in the community and school district you are familiar with parents feel a sense of security knowing their child is only a few minutes away and they can be there quickly if an emergency were to arise, but that is not always the case with summer camps. Parents often feel that their children may not adjust well, or they are too far away. They enjoy the comfort of knowing their child is under their direct supervision and safe during the summer months and so why should they even toss around the idea of sending their child to summer camp?

As with school, summer camp brings with it a number of benefits for children with disabilities to experience. Whether a child attends a sleepover or day camp, a camp for a specific disability or inclusionary camp the benefits are often the same as they would be for any child. An increase in confidence and independence, activity and exercise, the opportunity to interact with...


Cited: Independence.” U.S. Department of Education. 2000 Jan.
“Exercising with a disability: Physical activity is within your reach.”
MayoClinic.com. By Mayo Clinic Staff. 2004 Jun.
www.mayoclinic.com
“Mainstreaming at Camp.” Frost Valley YMCA. 2004 June.
www.frostvalley.org/programs/summer_camp/mac.htm
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