Making the Most of Winter Camps for Special Needs Children

When you think of camp for children, the summer season probably comes to mind. However, camp season doesn’t end when the summer does. There are plenty of year-round and winter camps for children, and if you have a special needs child, you may be considering enrolling your child in one of these camps.

Camps provide a safe environment where children can express themselves, interact with others and gain new skill sets; things that are beneficial for all children, but particularly for those who have special needs.

If you are considering taking advantage of the benefits that a winter or year-round camp offers, you will, no doubt, want to make the most of the experience. Here are some points to consider to help make your child’s camp experience as successful and enjoyable as possible.


Camp Types

The first thing you are going to want to consider when looking for a winter camp for your special needs child is the type of camp you want to send them to. There are many different types of camps that specifically cater to the diversified needs of those with cognitive and physical delays, so you are going to want to find the right camp for your child’s specific needs.

Inclusion or mainstream camps are those that include special needs children with their typically developing peers. They offer accommodations for special needs, including modified activities and environments. These camps allow special needs children to see that they can do anything that anyone else can. They also teach typically developing children that special needs children are no different than them.

There are also camps that are specially designed for children with special needs. This includes camps that cater to children with behavioral issues, cognitive delays, physical impairments and even chronic illnesses. These specialized camps offer a highly structured environment with a staff that is trained to understand and effectively handle each type of need.

Advantages of Camps

There are so many advantages that camp offers children with special needs. Some of the biggest benefits include socialization, confidence boosting, structured activities, cognitive development and a safe environment where kids can be themselves.

Children aren’t the only ones who benefit from camps; parents do, too. They provide parents with a break from the stresses of parenting and also allow parents to provide their children with opportunities they themselves may be unable to give otherwise.

Finding the Right Camp

The first thing you want to do is consider the type of camp your child will best benefit from; an inclusion camp or a special needs camp. Think of your child’s specific needs and what each type of camp offers.

As a guide in determining the best option a couple things to consider are: Does your child need on-site medical supervision? And do they have special equipment that needs to be accommodated?

Special needs camps will often provide these services while some inclusion camps may not offer as extensive accommodations.


Also, consider what you want your child to gain from camp. Do you want them to gain confidence by participating in activities with normally developing peers? Or would you rather them reap the benefits of feeling understood by being in a camp with other special needs children?

Start Researching

Once you decide what type of camp will best suit your child, you can start researching your options. Check out websites; make use of camp directories; ask for referrals from teachers, doctors and other parents.

When you research, you will want to take an in-depth look at the type of programs that are offered and how each camp will meet the needs of your child. Of course, you will also want to set up a meeting where you and your child can tour the camp and ask specific questions.

Types of Questions to Ask

Asking questions will help you find the camp that will best suit your child’s needs. These are some to keep in mind:

– What types of programs are offered?
– How is instruction offered?
– What types of modifications and accommodations are made?
– How do children interact with one another?
– What types of activities are available?
– What is the cost?
– What is the staff-to-child ratio?
– How are issues handled?

Make sure you write down your list of important questions and jot down the answers you receive. Go over the answers after your visits to get a better feel for each camp.

With this general knowledge in mind, you can find a camp that will be the most beneficial for your special needs child during the winter season – and all year long.

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