Now that you have thought about the kind of summer experience that’s best for your child, here are some suggestions to help you narrow down your choices. These ideas are tailored for recreation camps, but many of these tips can be applied elsewhere.
- Make a list of what you are looking for in a camp. What type of camp might best suit your child? Day or residential camp? What is your camp budget?
- Start your camp search by researching some resources.
American Camp Association, www.acacamps.org
Kids Camps, www.kidscamps.com
Internet Special Education Resources, www.iser.com
- Schedule a meeting with the camp directors. Be open and honest about your child’s strengths and needs. Discuss the camp environment. Does it match your child’s needs? What accommodations is the camp willing and able to make?
- Staffing. You will want to know what the student staff ratio is. What are the educational requirements for staff? What training did the staff receive? Will the staff receive training specific to your child?
- Communication. If your child is non verbal or rarely discusses what occurs during his school day, how will you have on-going communication with staff? E-mail? Daily notes as to activities and his/her performance?
- Health Support. If your child is on medication, have staff been trained in medication management? Is there a secure storage area for medications? What are the procedures for medical emergencies? Are counselors First Aid and CPR certified? Is there a nurse on staff? Is safety the first and foremost concern at all times?
- Visits. What is the procedure for observations and visitations? You may want to visit prior to making your final decision.
- Therapeutic Support Staff (TSS). In Pennsylvania some children who have behavioral challenges have a one to one staff person to support them in the community and school. Does the camp allow TSS to attend?
- References. Can the directors provide contact information for parents whose children have participated in the camp in prior years? A few phone calls might provide very useful information. Now is the time to choose, which camp is best suited for your child?
- Now is the time to choose; which camp is best suited for your child?
If you answer these questions as you begin your search, your child is sure to have a fun, memorable summer vacation at camp, and you will have an opportunity for some much needed respite.