Finding A Summer Camp

It’s that time of year – time to start thinking about the summer and some great opportunities for our apraxia stars! Children with apraxia can enjoy summer camp while still working on their speech skills in fun, new ways. Each year, we collect some ideas for summer camps and programs that include a speech and language component to help children with apraxia continue to make progress and practice. You can search the list here:

Start your camp search here.

Due to COVID-19 impacts, please make sure to check each camp’s website for the most up to date
information on any closings, delays, or other program changes.

Camp provides tremendous opportunities for children to broaden their horizons, learn new skills, become more independent, discover new strengths, and make friendships that last a lifetime. Even though you may be excited for your little one to go to camp for the first time, you may still have some mixed feelings and some unanswered questions.

Types of Camps

When you start your search for a summer camp program for your child, you may be bombarded with a ton of options! Knowing what each camp type means and what they have to offer can help you narrow your search. Each type has different variables like price, transportation, schedule, interest, and staff care. Here is a list of the most common types of camps you may encounter and what each camp type looks like.

Overnight Sleepaway Camp
Overnight sleepaway camps offer housing options in cabins, tents, lodges, etc. Most of these programs have coed sessions, single sex sessions, and specialty camps that focus on certain activities. They may also partner with outside organization to offer specialty medical weeks for children with special needs. These programs are great for children and teens who are ready for an adventure away from home.

Day Camp
The activities in these camps are much like what you would see in an overnight sleepaway camp, but are not for overnight stays. These programs often have more support staff onsite to accommodate more children. Typically, you must provide your own daily transportation. These options also tend to be better suited for younger campers that may not be ready or able to stay away from home just yet.

Specialty Camps and Programs
These programs are designed around a specific topic that a camper can learn more about and improve their skills during their time at camp. These can be camps rooted in science, math, computers, horses, dance, reading, writing, and more.

Therapeutic Camps

Hospitals, schools, speech therapists, and other therapy clinics often offer therapeutic camps or summer programs to help patients continue their therapies in a more fun and exciting way on top of their traditional therapies. These can often include feeding groups, social groups, apraxia intensive therapies, horseback riding therapy, and so much more. These camps are designed for campers to improve speech and language skills, fine and gross motor skills, social interactions, sensory issues, and more.

Special Needs Camps
Special needs camps and programs can all look very different. Some are day programs and some are overnight sleepaway camps, but all of these camps and programs are designed for people with disabilities. These campsites are often fully accessible and adaptable for all campers’ needs. Staff includes medical personnel like nurses and therapists, as well as specially trained volunteers and camp staff. Some special needs programs are fully integrated into traditional camp programs, while others are designed just for people with disabilities. All of these camps provide a fun and exciting summer camp experience without limitations.

Gauging Your Child’s Readiness for Camp

Once you have an idea of the type of camp or program you are looking for, here are some additional questions to ask yourself, and to consider when looking at specific programs.

What is your child’s age?
Most overnight sleepaway camps have a minimum age requirement (typically around 7-8 years old). If your child is younger than that age, you may want to look into day programs, therapeutic programs, etc. as they often have programs designed for younger age groups.

Has your child had positive overnight experiences away from home yet?
Has your child stayed over at a family or friends house with success? How was that experience for your child? If your child is able to stay away from home, they may be more prepared for camp.

What level of daily personal assistance (for things like personal hygiene, feeding, mobility, etc.) does your child need?
If your child needs extra assistance in any of these areas, you may want to consider day programs or special needs programs so that your child gets the support they need. Most day or special needs programs will likely have smaller staff to camper ratio to better accommodate everyone’s unique needs.

How does your child do in new situations?
Is your child excited about going to camp and learning new things? Does your child struggle when put into new and strange situations? Camp is a very new experience and environment for most children so it’s important that your child is prepared for that.

Does your child have a friend/family member they would like to attend camp with?
You could consider sending your child to a camp that one of their friends is planning to attend so that your child has someone familiar there. Alternatively, some specialty camps and programs allow campers to bring their own friend/sibling with them. This would be a great help in some therapeutic camps.

If it turns out that the idea of camp is a bit overwhelming for both you and your child, you might want to try starting small, like weekend sessions or day camps at a special-needs camp.

Questions to Consider When Looking for a Camp

So, how do you narrow down your choices and pick the camp that’s right for your child? Whatever type of camp you’re leaning toward, it’s important to do your research. Here are some questions you may want to consider when looking closer into your program options. Only you will know if the answers to these questions are right for you!

 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I want an overnight camp, day camp, or other program?
  • Is my child ready to sleep away from home for an extended stay? (This will help you to select either a overnight sleepaway or day camp setting)
  • How far away from home is it? Am I comfortable with that distance?
  • If the program doesn’t offer transportation, can you manage the necessary transportation?
  • Does the camp mission, philosophy, activities, etc. match my child?
  • What session length will appeal to my child and to our family plans for the summer? (One week? Eight weeks?)
  • What is my budget for camp tuition? (Remember, many camps offer financial aid.)

 

Questions to ask your perspective camp:

  • How long are the sessions?
  • What is the cost? Are scholarships or other funding available?
  • Is it coed, girls-only, or boys-only?
  • What is the age range of campers?
  • Where is it located?
  • Is transportation provided? If yes, what is the cost?
  • What is the staff-to-camper ratio?
  • What type of clearances, certifications, and training do the counselors/staff have?
  • Do staff members have a background working with kids with special needs?
  • What is the camp’s philosophy?
  • If physical accessibility is an issue, what’s the layout of the camp? What provisions has the camp made (or can it make) for wheelchairs or other mobility aids?
  • If your child needs a special diet, can the camp provide appropriate meals? If not, can you provide food for your child?
  • If your child has behavior issues, is staff trained to handle those situations?
  • What kind of medical and nursing staff is available in the infirmary and during what hours? Can the staff administer any medications your child needs?
  • What’s the procedure if your child develops a complication related to their medical diagnoses? How far is the nearest hospital? If your child needs specialized treatment, is it available at that hospital?
  • How can I stay in touch with my child during camp? Does the camp allow mail, phone calls, or email? Does the camp have parent visitation days?
  • What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving, and other issues unique to working with young children?
  • Is the price all-inclusive? If no, what additional fees would there be?
  • Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?
  • If the camp offers swimming, are there swimming lessons or is it simply recreational swimming?
  • Are campers in a group with a counselor all day? Or, are campers free to go from one activity to another with appropriate supervision? In this case, whom would you talk to if you had a question or concern about your child?

 

The best way to learn about these camps is to ask! There are no silly questions when exploring a completely new endeavor like camp, especially if your child has any special needs! You can ask to tour the facility in-person, discuss the layout and activities over the phone with staff, and even hear from other camper families who have attended before.

Packing Tips

Your camp program will give you a list of everything your child will need during their time at camp. In addition to the helpful list you will already receive from your camp, here are some extra items and packing tips to consider.

 

Extra Items

Stationary – So your child can write notes to friends, send notes home, and write about their experience

Bug Repellent Bracelets – Easy to wear all day and night instead of using bug spray

Surprise from Home – To help your child with homesickness

Bus Backpack – Snacks, water, and entertainment for the bus ride to camp

Bug Net – For outdoor bunks, a bug net around your camper can be helpful

Shower Caddy – Put all toiletries and shower shoes in one convenient carryall

Fan – A battery or solar powered fan will help keep your camper cool

Flashlights/Headlamp – Pack more than one flashlight, or even a headlamp for hands free light

Extra Bathing Suit – Putting on a still-wet bathing suit is no fun so pack an extra one just in case

Extra Towels – Extra swimming and bath towels will not go unused

Medication – Make sure any medication your child is on goes to the camp nurse or appropriate staff

Personal First Aid – A small first aid kit with band aids and antibacterial ointment

Water Bottle – It’s important to stay extra hydrated during activities outside in the summer heat

Dirty Laundry Bag – Even if it’s just a trash bag, a designated spot for dirty clothes will help

Sun Protection – Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.

 

Packing Tips

  • Pack with your child, not for them, so they have a say in and know what they’re bringing to camp.
  • Label everything! Things get lost or accidently borrowed all the time at camp so it can be very helpful to have labels on things like bedding, towels, shoes, clothing, flashlights, and more.
  • Leave all expensive and extra special items at home. No fancy clothes needed at camp!
  • Leave all technology at home, too. Most camps have no-tech policies so no phones, computers, tablets, etc. at camp.
  • Roll clothing instead of folding it. This leaves less wrinkles and is easier for kids to do.
  • If your child needs extra help with packing and/or choosing outfits, you can pre-pack individual full outfits into their own large Ziploc bags so your child can just grab one and get dressed. You can do this for swimming days, pajamas, messy outfits, and more.
  • Pack older shoes that you don’t mind your child getting dirty. If you’re sending new shoes, make sure to break them in before camp begins so there’s no blisters on day one of camp.
  • Packing in a Ziploc tote bin is a cheap, easy, and waterproof option. Packing in a large suitcase or duffle bag also provides enough packing space in one container. Whatever you use, it’s important for your camper to be able to carry, roll, or push their own things as much as possible.
  • Your registration forms should provide all important information about your child which your counselor should have, however, you can also provide the camp staff with an information sheet including your child’s medications, allergies, asthma, or other medical conditions.
  • This year’s packing lists from camp may include some extra items like sanitizer, masks, gloves, tissues, etc. so make sure to check with your camp, and your state regulations, on what additional items you may need to pack.

Coping with Homesickness

If this is your child’s first summer camp experience, it might also be their first experience with homesickness. Feeling homesick is very common for most campers.

The American Camp Association (ACA) suggest the following tips for parents to help their child deal with homesickness at summer camp:

  • Encourage your child’s independence throughout the year. Practice separations, such as sleepovers at a friend’s house, can simulate the camp environment.
  • Involve your child in the process of choosing a camp. The more the child owns the decision, the more comfortable the child will feel being at camp.
  • Discuss what camp will be like before your child leaves. Consider role-playing anticipated situations, such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.
  • Reach an agreement ahead of time on calling each other. If your child’s camp has a no-phone-calls policy, honor it.
  • Send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day of camp. Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss your child. For example, you can say “I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp.”
  • Don’t bribe. Linking a successful stay at camp to a material object sends the wrong message. The reward should be your child’s newfound confidence and independence.
  • Pack a personal item from home, such as a stuffed animal.
  • When a “rescue call” comes from the child, offer calm reassurance and put the timeframe into perspective. Avoid the temptation to take the child home early.
  • Talk candidly with the camp director to obtain their perspective on your child’s adjustment.
  • Don’t feel guilty about encouraging your child to stay at camp. For many children, camp is a first step toward independence and plays an important role in their growth and development.
  • Trust your instincts. While most incidents of homesickness will pass in a day or two, research shows that approximately seven percent of the cases are severe. If your child is not eating or sleeping because of anxiety or depression, it is time to go home. However, don’t make your child feel like a failure if their stay at camp is cut short. Focus on the positive and encourage your child to try camp again next year.

The American Camp Association was referenced for portions of this blog.

Disclaimer: Aligned with our mission, Apraxia Kids does not endorse any one method, program, or approach. Rather, we share information so families and professionals can make informed choices for children with CAS as they work to find their voices.

It’s that time of year – time to start thinking about the summer and some great opportunities for our apraxia stars! Children with apraxia can enjoy summer camp while still working on their speech skills in fun, new ways. Each year, we collect some ideas for summer camps and programs that include a speech and language component to help children with apraxia continue to make progress and practice. You can search the list here:

Start your camp search here.

Due to COVID-19 impacts, please make sure to check each camp’s website for the most up to date
information on any closings, delays, or other program changes.

Camp provides tremendous opportunities for children to broaden their horizons, learn new skills, become more independent, discover new strengths, and make friendships that last a lifetime. Even though you may be excited for your little one to go to camp for the first time, you may still have some mixed feelings and some unanswered questions.

Types of Camps

When you start your search for a summer camp program for your child, you may be bombarded with a ton of options! Knowing what each camp type means and what they have to offer can help you narrow your search. Each type has different variables like price, transportation, schedule, interest, and staff care. Here is a list of the most common types of camps you may encounter and what each camp type looks like.

Overnight Sleepaway Camp
Overnight sleepaway camps offer housing options in cabins, tents, lodges, etc. Most of these programs have coed sessions, single sex sessions, and specialty camps that focus on certain activities. They may also partner with outside organization to offer specialty medical weeks for children with special needs. These programs are great for children and teens who are ready for an adventure away from home.

Day Camp
The activities in these camps are much like what you would see in an overnight sleepaway camp, but are not for overnight stays. These programs often have more support staff onsite to accommodate more children. Typically, you must provide your own daily transportation. These options also tend to be better suited for younger campers that may not be ready or able to stay away from home just yet.

Specialty Camps and Programs
These programs are designed around a specific topic that a camper can learn more about and improve their skills during their time at camp. These can be camps rooted in science, math, computers, horses, dance, reading, writing, and more.

Therapeutic Camps

Hospitals, schools, speech therapists, and other therapy clinics often offer therapeutic camps or summer programs to help patients continue their therapies in a more fun and exciting way on top of their traditional therapies. These can often include feeding groups, social groups, apraxia intensive therapies, horseback riding therapy, and so much more. These camps are designed for campers to improve speech and language skills, fine and gross motor skills, social interactions, sensory issues, and more.

Special Needs Camps
Special needs camps and programs can all look very different. Some are day programs and some are overnight sleepaway camps, but all of these camps and programs are designed for people with disabilities. These campsites are often fully accessible and adaptable for all campers’ needs. Staff includes medical personnel like nurses and therapists, as well as specially trained volunteers and camp staff. Some special needs programs are fully integrated into traditional camp programs, while others are designed just for people with disabilities. All of these camps provide a fun and exciting summer camp experience without limitations.

Gauging Your Child’s Readiness for Camp

Once you have an idea of the type of camp or program you are looking for, here are some additional questions to ask yourself, and to consider when looking at specific programs.

What is your child’s age?
Most overnight sleepaway camps have a minimum age requirement (typically around 7-8 years old). If your child is younger than that age, you may want to look into day programs, therapeutic programs, etc. as they often have programs designed for younger age groups.

Has your child had positive overnight experiences away from home yet?
Has your child stayed over at a family or friends house with success? How was that experience for your child? If your child is able to stay away from home, they may be more prepared for camp.

What level of daily personal assistance (for things like personal hygiene, feeding, mobility, etc.) does your child need?
If your child needs extra assistance in any of these areas, you may want to consider day programs or special needs programs so that your child gets the support they need. Most day or special needs programs will likely have smaller staff to camper ratio to better accommodate everyone’s unique needs.

How does your child do in new situations?
Is your child excited about going to camp and learning new things? Does your child struggle when put into new and strange situations? Camp is a very new experience and environment for most children so it’s important that your child is prepared for that.

Does your child have a friend/family member they would like to attend camp with?
You could consider sending your child to a camp that one of their friends is planning to attend so that your child has someone familiar there. Alternatively, some specialty camps and programs allow campers to bring their own friend/sibling with them. This would be a great help in some therapeutic camps.

If it turns out that the idea of camp is a bit overwhelming for both you and your child, you might want to try starting small, like weekend sessions or day camps at a special-needs camp.

Questions to Consider When Looking for a Camp

So, how do you narrow down your choices and pick the camp that’s right for your child? Whatever type of camp you’re leaning toward, it’s important to do your research. Here are some questions you may want to consider when looking closer into your program options. Only you will know if the answers to these questions are right for you!

 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I want an overnight camp, day camp, or other program?
  • Is my child ready to sleep away from home for an extended stay? (This will help you to select either a overnight sleepaway or day camp setting)
  • How far away from home is it? Am I comfortable with that distance?
  • If the program doesn’t offer transportation, can you manage the necessary transportation?
  • Does the camp mission, philosophy, activities, etc. match my child?
  • What session length will appeal to my child and to our family plans for the summer? (One week? Eight weeks?)
  • What is my budget for camp tuition? (Remember, many camps offer financial aid.)

 

Questions to ask your perspective camp:

  • How long are the sessions?
  • What is the cost? Are scholarships or other funding available?
  • Is it coed, girls-only, or boys-only?
  • What is the age range of campers?
  • Where is it located?
  • Is transportation provided? If yes, what is the cost?
  • What is the staff-to-camper ratio?
  • What type of clearances, certifications, and training do the counselors/staff have?
  • Do staff members have a background working with kids with special needs?
  • What is the camp’s philosophy?
  • If physical accessibility is an issue, what’s the layout of the camp? What provisions has the camp made (or can it make) for wheelchairs or other mobility aids?
  • If your child needs a special diet, can the camp provide appropriate meals? If not, can you provide food for your child?
  • If your child has behavior issues, is staff trained to handle those situations?
  • What kind of medical and nursing staff is available in the infirmary and during what hours? Can the staff administer any medications your child needs?
  • What’s the procedure if your child develops a complication related to their medical diagnoses? How far is the nearest hospital? If your child needs specialized treatment, is it available at that hospital?
  • How can I stay in touch with my child during camp? Does the camp allow mail, phone calls, or email? Does the camp have parent visitation days?
  • What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving, and other issues unique to working with young children?
  • Is the price all-inclusive? If no, what additional fees would there be?
  • Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?
  • If the camp offers swimming, are there swimming lessons or is it simply recreational swimming?
  • Are campers in a group with a counselor all day? Or, are campers free to go from one activity to another with appropriate supervision? In this case, whom would you talk to if you had a question or concern about your child?

 

The best way to learn about these camps is to ask! There are no silly questions when exploring a completely new endeavor like camp, especially if your child has any special needs! You can ask to tour the facility in-person, discuss the layout and activities over the phone with staff, and even hear from other camper families who have attended before.

Packing Tips

Your camp program will give you a list of everything your child will need during their time at camp. In addition to the helpful list you will already receive from your camp, here are some extra items and packing tips to consider.

 

Extra Items

Stationary – So your child can write notes to friends, send notes home, and write about their experience

Bug Repellent Bracelets – Easy to wear all day and night instead of using bug spray

Surprise from Home – To help your child with homesickness

Bus Backpack – Snacks, water, and entertainment for the bus ride to camp

Bug Net – For outdoor bunks, a bug net around your camper can be helpful

Shower Caddy – Put all toiletries and shower shoes in one convenient carryall

Fan – A battery or solar powered fan will help keep your camper cool

Flashlights/Headlamp – Pack more than one flashlight, or even a headlamp for hands free light

Extra Bathing Suit – Putting on a still-wet bathing suit is no fun so pack an extra one just in case

Extra Towels – Extra swimming and bath towels will not go unused

Medication – Make sure any medication your child is on goes to the camp nurse or appropriate staff

Personal First Aid – A small first aid kit with band aids and antibacterial ointment

Water Bottle – It’s important to stay extra hydrated during activities outside in the summer heat

Dirty Laundry Bag – Even if it’s just a trash bag, a designated spot for dirty clothes will help

Sun Protection – Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.

 

Packing Tips

  • Pack with your child, not for them, so they have a say in and know what they’re bringing to camp.
  • Label everything! Things get lost or accidently borrowed all the time at camp so it can be very helpful to have labels on things like bedding, towels, shoes, clothing, flashlights, and more.
  • Leave all expensive and extra special items at home. No fancy clothes needed at camp!
  • Leave all technology at home, too. Most camps have no-tech policies so no phones, computers, tablets, etc. at camp.
  • Roll clothing instead of folding it. This leaves less wrinkles and is easier for kids to do.
  • If your child needs extra help with packing and/or choosing outfits, you can pre-pack individual full outfits into their own large Ziploc bags so your child can just grab one and get dressed. You can do this for swimming days, pajamas, messy outfits, and more.
  • Pack older shoes that you don’t mind your child getting dirty. If you’re sending new shoes, make sure to break them in before camp begins so there’s no blisters on day one of camp.
  • Packing in a Ziploc tote bin is a cheap, easy, and waterproof option. Packing in a large suitcase or duffle bag also provides enough packing space in one container. Whatever you use, it’s important for your camper to be able to carry, roll, or push their own things as much as possible.
  • Your registration forms should provide all important information about your child which your counselor should have, however, you can also provide the camp staff with an information sheet including your child’s medications, allergies, asthma, or other medical conditions.
  • This year’s packing lists from camp may include some extra items like sanitizer, masks, gloves, tissues, etc. so make sure to check with your camp, and your state regulations, on what additional items you may need to pack.

Coping with Homesickness

If this is your child’s first summer camp experience, it might also be their first experience with homesickness. Feeling homesick is very common for most campers.

The American Camp Association (ACA) suggest the following tips for parents to help their child deal with homesickness at summer camp:

  • Encourage your child’s independence throughout the year. Practice separations, such as sleepovers at a friend’s house, can simulate the camp environment.
  • Involve your child in the process of choosing a camp. The more the child owns the decision, the more comfortable the child will feel being at camp.
  • Discuss what camp will be like before your child leaves. Consider role-playing anticipated situations, such as using a flashlight to find the bathroom.
  • Reach an agreement ahead of time on calling each other. If your child’s camp has a no-phone-calls policy, honor it.
  • Send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day of camp. Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss your child. For example, you can say “I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp.”
  • Don’t bribe. Linking a successful stay at camp to a material object sends the wrong message. The reward should be your child’s newfound confidence and independence.
  • Pack a personal item from home, such as a stuffed animal.
  • When a “rescue call” comes from the child, offer calm reassurance and put the timeframe into perspective. Avoid the temptation to take the child home early.
  • Talk candidly with the camp director to obtain their perspective on your child’s adjustment.
  • Don’t feel guilty about encouraging your child to stay at camp. For many children, camp is a first step toward independence and plays an important role in their growth and development.
  • Trust your instincts. While most incidents of homesickness will pass in a day or two, research shows that approximately seven percent of the cases are severe. If your child is not eating or sleeping because of anxiety or depression, it is time to go home. However, don’t make your child feel like a failure if their stay at camp is cut short. Focus on the positive and encourage your child to try camp again next year.

The American Camp Association was referenced for portions of this blog.

Disclaimer: Aligned with our mission, Apraxia Kids does not endorse any one method, program, or approach. Rather, we share information so families and professionals can make informed choices for children with CAS as they work to find their voices.



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