As summer is upon us you may be considering sending your child with special needs to a day camp. Whether it’s through your local park system, non profit organization or through a church, you want to make sure your child, counselors and the organization as a whole is prepared for your child’s arrival. You want to make sure your child’s experience is fun and memorable.
So what can you do to prepare:
1) Make sure you know about the camp: Contact them and ask questions, have they had a child with special needs before, what do they do to train their staff, how do they prepare, do they provide a 1 on 1 aide support for your child, has anyone you know gone there that can provide you a testimonial.
2) Share as much information as possible: Many camps have paperwork you can fill out to share information about things like dietary and medical needs. And regardless of whether your child is going to a day or residential camp, you should give the staff a list of emergency phone numbers and email addresses, and make sure they know how to reach you at all times during your child’s camp stay. I even spoke with my son’s aide before camp started just to give her some more information about him.
3) Label Everything: like you do for school you should label everything your child brings to camp. Here are some example of some name labels:
Mabel’s Labels has such a wonderful collection of labels.
You can also add a food allergy bag tag to your child’s backpack.
Whether you write it out on an index card or add a medical alert emergency card into your child’s backpack, it’s always nice to have it accessible, even though you have already provided the camp with all your child’s medical information.
4) Pack The Right Stuff: Try to limit the special equipment your child brings, especially if it’s expensive or breakable. Kids going to an inclusive camp are going to want to model after their peers, so do what you can to accommodate that desire. Make sure to provide any additional change of clothes in case of toiletry accidents, send another pair of shoes (old ones) just in case they are outside and their feet get wet you don’t want them standing in wet shoes, towels, hat, sunglasses, suntan lotion, food, drinks and snacks.
5) Prepare your child for camp: some children may have high anxiety when going to camp or even school. They may feel nervous about meeting new people or they will just miss you. Camps usually don’t allow direct contact between the parent and child, which may make you nervous as well. So create a plan of how you will be able to contact the counselor. Ask if you child can be paired up with a “buddy” in addition to their aide. Get them excited about camp by giving them a journal to document their fun.
Camp is about having fun, learning new things, making new friends and letting your child experience something with their peers outside of school. Your child can grow even just in one week at day camp.
Here is a picture that the counselor at my son’s camp took of him. I was so proud of him for many reasons for trying and for allowing people to help him so he can accomplish something fun and new.
You can read more about my son’s camp experience from last year at this post.
Do you send your child to camp?
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As a Special Needs Mom & Lifestyle Blogger, I am passionate about spreading awareness and acceptance for children with special needs, and to give others a glimpse into our life as a typical family with a little something special. I love to talk about fashion, travel, children activities, healthy lifestyles and more!