Going to summer camp — whether to a day camp or an overnight camp — can be an enriching and positive experience. Camp is where kids learn many life skills that they will take into adulthood, including learning how to do things on their own, learning how to make friends and get along with others, and learning how to embrace new experiences.
Here are just some of the ways that summer camp can be a big benefit for kids with special needs … for both the child and the parent.
Summer camp for kids with special needs provides a safe environment for friendships to blossom, and it allows kids to work on their social skills with other kids who might understand their challenges. Although camp can oftentimes provide a structure similar to a school setting, camp is typically more low-key and engaging, with an emphasis on fun, so there are more opportunities for kids to let down their guard and find new buddies. Kids who have a difficult time making friends during the school year might find themselves making friends easily at camp.
Many camps for kids with special needs have specially trained staff to help kids get out of their comfort zones and try new activities. This opens kids up not just to new experiences, but experiencing new people, too.
Gain New Skills
No matter what kind of camp your child attends, chances are, they will be learning something new. Whether it’s a complex skill like building a fire or rowing a boat, or something more everyday like finally learning how to tie their shoes, camp is an opportunity for a child to step outside of their comfort zone and grow.
In some cases, you can find camps that will teach kids specific skills, like how to swim or how to ride a bike without training wheels.There are also camps for kids with disabilities that teach kids how to play team sports, like soccer or baseball, and provide wheelchair accessibility and helpers. These kinds of camp experiences help to ensure that kids have a positive experience learning a new skill.
Unplug from Technology
Technology has increasingly made its way into our everyday lives, including the lives of our children. But camp is one of the few places where kids can fully unplug from their phones, tablets, video games and TVs, and just experience summer the old-fashioned way. Kids of all ages and abilities benefit from screen-free time, and camp provides a great outlet (and excuse!) for leaving the screens behind, even if it’s only for a few hours.
Get a Break
Parenting is tough. Parenting a child with special needs can sometimes be even more tough. Children are perceptive and can sense when their parents are burned out and need a break. And guess what? Most of the time, the child needs a break just as much as the parent does! Camp provides this break, for both the parent and child. At camp, kids can make new friends, engage with adults who are not their parents, and get a little change of pace. Parents can take a breather and reset for when their child comes back home. It’s a win-win for all involved.