Summer camp search
It happens every year. Just before and just after the school year ends parents start calling ECAC as part of their search for summer camps or summer programs for their children. After silently saying to ourselves, “Why did they wait so long?!”, we Parent Educators dutifully attempt to provide what limited assistance we can.
We refer parents to the Summer Camp Directory that is assembled by the Family Support Program which operates out of the School of Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill. This listing includes day and overnight camps for children with a variety of special needs and can be accessed at http://fsp.unc.edu Most of these camps fill up months in advance, but parents can still learn about the programs, and find out how and when to apply for next year.
Many local Departments of Parks and Recreation offer summer day camps, and some have therapeutic recreational programs designed specifically for children and youth with disabilities. As recipients of public funding, however, the regular camp programs have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations that would make it possible for children with disabilities to participate in their program. Some of the Y’s are also making a deliberate effort to be more accommodating of children with special needs.
Call around, talk to friends and acquaintances, check out local “Parent” magazines, public libraries, museums, movie theaters, bowling alleys, skate rinks, churches, public and private schools, tourist attractions, scouts, 4-H clubs, etc. for summer offerings that might be of interest to your child. Parents often have to create a patchwork quilt of activities in order to keep the children constructively occupied throughout the summer. At home, consider accessing educational websites, software and activity/workbooks to keep the young minds active and skills from being lost. There are more summer tips on many of the disability-related related websites.
The key message is to start planning early… really early! That’s when you’ll have the most options and a chance at getting financial assistance, if needed. With planning, your child can go from having a ho-hum summer to a truly great one!