Summer camp makes a difference


Cathy Gilbert
Focus on Adoption magazine

The benefits of summer camp

  • Children who join their family through adoption, especially older children or children with special needs, often feel different from their peers at school. One of the benefits of camp is that children sharing cabins seldom press one another for details of their family--where they came from, why they can't live with their birth parents, or that a child joined his or her family through adoption--at camp it's much less obvious who your parents are and what they look like.
  • Kids are more likely to try something new when they are not surrounded by school peers who have preconceived ideas about how they behave, or their role in the peer group. Camp may also be the place where no one knows that a child spends time in a modified program at school.
  • Most camp activities don't require the math and reading skills that might quickly identify those with learning challenges.
  • Children who try new activities like boating, hiking, diving, or who are brave enough to perform in a skit at campfire may be able to carry a new understanding of themselves into their live at home and school.
  • Camp gives kids the opportunity to see that there is a whole world outside of their school, family, and community.
  • A happy camp experience can give parents renewed hope for their child's future.
  • Camp gives children a time of psychical freedom in a large, open space, something often missing in children's lives today.
  • Camp gives parents a valuable break!

Summer camp tips

  • Be sure to share with camp staff relevant information about your child's needs.
  • Ask if the staff are experienced in working with children with your child's special need. Give examples of situations that you might see arising and ask how the staff would be expected to react.
  • Find out if there will be a staff member awake through the night to monitor the kids or get them back into bed if they wanders or can't sleep.
  • Ask what the child/staff ratio at the camp is (don't include the cook and administrators).
  • Find out what sort of activities are scheduled and how difficult they are. Compare this information with the skills and abilities of your child.
  • Ask if the camp is accessible by phone.
  • Ask how staff will react to challenging behaviour, lost items, and medical emergencies.
  • Send clothing you don't mind being lost!
  • Enjoy the time away form your child! You deserve it!

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