Family life

Are your kids going to camp this summer?

Amy writes about a new online kit from Autism Ontario that helps parents find a suitable summer camp program for their kids.

By Amy Baskin
Are your kids going to camp this summer?

Photo by Hunterrr via Flickr

So, have you got your summer organized yet? True confession: I haven’t. But now that the weather’s balmy, I know that summer’s looming.

Like many kids with special needs, Tal does best when she has a lot of structure, activities and peers to spend time with during the summer. Sure, we’ll likely take a week or two for a family holiday, but that still leaves eight weeks of unstructured summer time for us to figure out.

Over the years, Tal’s tried a smorgasbord of camps — both mainstream and special needs programs. Some experiences were stellar and others were less successful. A lot seems to depend on the personalities, skills and flexibility of the camp staff. Sometimes we hired our own support worker to accompany Tal  for a week or two of sleepover camp, but now she’s able to attend on her own with peer support.

But, honestly, finding an appropriate camp, seeing if it suits your child, explaining your child’s needs and ensuring that there is proper staff support is time-consuming and exhausting. And often it’s staggeringly expensive — especially if you have to pay one-on-one support staff fees on top of regular camp fees.

So, here’s the good news. Autism Ontario has created a fabulous kit called Calypso: Finding Camp Experiences for Children with Autism. It walks you through the steps of deciding what kind of camp will work for your child, while helping you narrow down your choices and register. It also has a useful “All About Us” form where you document your child’s needs and strengths to camp staff.

Even if your child doesn’t have autism, most of the information, checklists and forms are useful for many campers with special needs. So, take a look at the website and make summer planning much easier on yourself.

Have your kids gone to camp? What made it successful (or not so successful)?

Photo by Hunterrrr via Flickr

This article was originally published on Apr 13, 2012

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