If any of these links don’t work or are out of date, please use our contact form to tell us about it.
CHADD does not make endorsements.
Some more ideas:
A (reprinted) publication of the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities
Special Camp Guide
Resources for Children with Special Needs
200 Park Avenue, South, Suite 816
New York, NY 10003
Easter Seals Camping and Recreation List
Easter Seals-National Office
230 West Monroe Street, Suite 1800
Chicago, IL 60606
(800) 221-6827; (312) 726-6200 (Voice)
(312) 726-4258 (TTY)
Free (some “camperships” are available)
Guide to Summer Camps and Summer Schools
Porter Sargent Publishers, Inc.
11 Beacon Street, Suite 1400
Boston, MA 02108
Guide to ACA Accredited Camps
American Camping Association (ACA), Inc.
5000 State Road 67 North
Martinsville, IN 46151-7902
(800) 428-2267; (765) 342-8456
Camp List for Children with Cancer
The Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation
3910 Warner Street
Kensington, MD 20895
(301) 962-3520; (800) 366-2223
Camps for Children with Spina Bifida
Spina Bifida Association of America
4590 MacArthur Boulevard, N.W., Suite 250
Washington, D.C. 20007-4226
(800) 621-3141; (202) 944-3285
Call for a state-by-state listing.
Directory of Summer Camps for Children with Learning Disabilities
Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA)
4156 Library Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15234
(888) 300-6710; (412) 341-1515; (412) 341-8077
Summer Camps for Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
National Deaf Education Network and Clearinghouse, Gallaudet University
800 Florida Avenue, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002-3695
(202) 651-5051 (Voice); (202) 651-5052 (TTY)
Camp Channel: Bringing Summer Camps to the Internet
The CampPage Guide to Summer Camps
Children with Diabetes: Camps
InterCamp: Summer Camp Directory & Resource
When choosing a summer camp program for a child with disabilities, the most important question is “will they understand and take good care of my child?” This can be answered by lengthy conversations with camp personnel or the director. If a camp is too busy to return your phone calls, or take the time to talk at length with you, will they be too busy for your child as well? Regardless of all that a camp may have to offer, if the director or the staff are too busy for you now, it should be a red flag. Find a camp that will give you and your child the time and attention that you both deserve. Consider these factors when determining what camp program will best fit the needs of your child:
Type of Program
Decide early in the process what type of program you want for your child. Camps are offered as day programs (campers go home at night) and residential programs (campers board at the camp facility for the length of their stay). Length of programs vary from as short as a few days to several weeks. Be certain that your child is ready to cope with the length of the program you select. Camp programs are available in both same sex formats and co-ed. Consider your child’s social skills level and ability to cope with the demands of mixed social situations when deciding which of these environments would be best. Program philosophy should be clearly stated in the camp literature. Your family should be comfortable with this philosophy and confident that it will deliver an enjoyable experience for your child. Of particular importance is the camp’s policy regarding family communication with the child. Will the child be expected, in fact encouraged, to write to his/her family during the camp stay? Will phone calls to/from home be allowed? Children with disabilities often have differing needs for family contact and you should be certain that the camp policy will not conflict with those needs.
Type of Camp
There are many choices! Your child can be mainstreamed into a regular camp setting, or be at a camp that focuses on their particular needs. There are also camps that mix up the needs, such as learning disabilities, emotionally disabilities, and physical disabilities. And then there are camps that truly specialize. You’ll need to decide which type of environment will best address your child’s needs. Size What are you ideally looking for? Camps range in size from 500 or more children per session to as small as 30-35 per session. It is purely a personal decision for each family. Make a point of asking the camp director for information about the number of campers in the program.
Educational vs. Recreational
Many camps are purely recreational, while other programs combine both recreational and educational activities. Some programs while calling themselves “camp,” have a strong instructional focus. Inquire about the percentage of camp time devoted to varying activities and decide what mix will best serve you child’s specific needs. Location and Facilities Choose the type of setting that you think your child will enjoy. The Eastern half of the country has many beautiful lakefront and forest locations. Many camps are schools that convert to camp/ summer school during the summer months. There are fewer camps in the west, but the west offers a completely different experience because of the Rocky Mountains and the distinctive western culture. Some camps are luxurious and others are true camping experiences. Ask about eating, sleeping and bathing facilities and be sure that your child will feel comfortable in the particular setting offered by the camp.
The American Camping Association requires one counselor for every eight children. When dealing with children with disabilities higher staff ratio is preferred. For residential programs, be sure to determine the level of staff supervision in the evening hours. You want your child to receive the attention they need in the camp environment. In addition, it is important to determine if the teachers and/ or counselors are educated, certified, and trained to work with children with disabilities. In addition, determine the level of medical training staff has received. If your child takes regular medication, will trained staff be on duty each day to administer the medication? Summer camp should focus on enhancing your child’s self-esteem, and independence. The successful camp experience should improve social skills and provide quality peer relationships. Hopefully your camper will return feeling better about himself than when the summer began.
999 Locust Street NE
Salem, OR 97303