Special Needs Children and Camp: Part I – Benefits of Camp for Children with Special Needs

It’s that time of year again; time to start thinking about your summer plans. It’s time to research activities to keep your children occupied and engaged through the weeks without school that will be here before you know it. For many children, it will be a summer of attending different camps from day camps to sports camps to overnight camps. There are many camps to choose from, even for children with special needs. Camps come in many shapes and sizes these days including camps for children with physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, children with chronic conditions and children facing emotional stresses due to instances such as the loss of a loved one. The benefits of camp are seemingly endless.

Increased Confidence
Children with special needs often feel left out when it comes to everyday life. Sometimes they are excluded from birthday parties or certain events because they are unable to do the same physical activities as their peers. Attending a camp designed for them allows them to take part in activities they usually aren’t able to such as horseback riding and swimming. These experiences build a child’s self-esteem and allow her to feel good about whom she is.

New Friendships
Attending a camp geared towards her needs means that the other campers will have similar needs. Interacting with children who have to face the same obstacles and challenges allows children to build life-long friendships. Children with special needs often feel like they are alone in the world, but at camp, they are able to meet others who are just like them.

New Skills and Independence
Camp opens up doors for children. They are able to learn new skills from swimming to fishing to arts and crafts. In addition, children can learn to be more independent while away from their parents who often do things for their child out of habit. Increased independence means a child may go home being able to do things they couldn’t do when they first arrived at camp, such as put on their own braces, administer their own medications or dress themselves. Camp can help prepare children for life.

Part II – Preparing for Camp
Part III – Best Camps for Special Needs

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About Nancy

I am a freelance writer focused on parenting children with special needs. My articles have been featured in numerous parenting publications and on www.parentingspecialneeds.org. I am the former editor and publisher of Vermont HomeStyle Magazine. I am a wife and mom to a two daughters, one with cystic fibrosis and one who is a carrier for cystic fibrosis.