You sent your child to camp for the first time, he or she had a great time…
The importance of the camp opportunity for any child can be a critical one, as camp is not just a place but it is also an “experience” complete with activities learned, friendships made, stereotypes broken, and memories that, for many, last a lifetime. This full experience, when done well, supports and enhances the physical, emotional, social and developmental growth of children. This is true for all children, including children with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
“In working with hundreds of families of children with special needs over the last 8 years, I often hear “Thank goodness for camp … this is all they have. They look forward to it all year,” says Carol Stone, Camp Director at Bradford Woods. While this is great news for the camp and the child, the hope is that the camp experience is a stepping stone to other recreational activities as opposed to it being their only recreational experience. Ideally children will attend camp and gain the necessary skills, independence, confidence, and interests to jump into other activities and pursuits upon returning home. Work with your child and camp staff to identify activities that your child most enjoyed at camp. Maybe it was swimming or working on an art project. Then talk with your community recreation providers such as your local park and recreation department, YMCA or YWCA, boy scouts or girl scouts, etc to see what similar type programs are offered throughout the year close to home.
Recreation and leisure is often under-represented in its importance to daily health and happiness, especially for children with disabilities. As adults if we look back upon our lives, it is typically not the school work or business meetings we remember most fondly, it is the time with friends playing, laughing, and growing at camp that brings a smile. These opportunities and memories should not be limited due to an individual having a disability or illness. In fact the need for such “holism” can perhaps be argued to then be even more important to sustaining both physical and emotional health. Simply stated, camp can be a great opportunity for your child! It can open many doors of exploration and enjoyment. Hopefully, the skills they acquire in this unique environment will transfer to other areas of their lives. With a little time, research and planning, camp can be a wonderful experience for the entire family! Discover Camp! Enjoy!