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Choosing the right specialty camp



What to research before enrolling your child in camp

While camps designed for specific needs offer very specialized care, some families would prefer to attend a traditional camp that caters to all children.

Before enrolling your children in a camp, visit the facility and make sure the layout and surroundings meet your expectations and needs.

Here are a few things parents should keep in mind before choosing a traditional or special needs camp for their child:

• Is the camp is accredited by an organization such as the American Camp Association?

• Does it meet the organization's standards for kids with special needs, including facility and staffing requirements?

• What training and experience do the directors and counselors have in working with kids with a need similar to your child's?

• Are there other families you can contact whose children have attended the camp that might be willing to discuss their experience with you?

• What is the ratio of counselors to campers? For children with severe disabilities, the ratio should be at least one counselor for every three campers.

• What are the camp's health and safety procedures? What about the facility? Is there a registered nurse in residence? If not, who will disperse medication, if needed? How close is the nearest hospital? Have emergency arrangements been made with a local hospital?

Are they able to accommodate special dietary needs? Who will assist with feeding, toileting or other activities of daily living?

• Can I visit the camp to see the program firsthand? Do they have sessions year-round?

• How do they ensure an inclusive environment when some activities aren’t appropriate for your child? What alternatives are available?

• What about the camp's registration fee? (Keep in mind that expense and quality may not go hand-in-hand, because many specialized camps charge only a fraction of actual costs. Find out if there are scholarships available.)

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