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How to Prepare for Summer Camp

How to Prepare for Summer Camp

Now that springtime is here, it is time to plan your summer, if you haven’t already. Deciding how to fill your child’s summer can feel daunting or overwhelming, especially if your child has special needs or medical conditions. Spending a week at summer camp is a popular way for many children to spend their time, but is it right for your child? At Camp Aldersgate, we are here to help!

If you are considering sending your child to camp, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Research to find the right fit: One of the first steps in preparing for summer camp is researching and selecting the right program for your child. Look for camps that specialize in accommodating children with special needs. Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association? Do they accept Waiver or PASSE to help pay for sessions? Consider factors such as the staff-to-camper ratio, the camp’s experience with your child’s specific needs, and the accessibility of the campus.
  2. Communicate with staff: Effective communication with camp staff is essential. Before enrolling your child, discuss their needs, preferences, and any concerns with the Program Director and medical team. Be transparent about your child’s abilities, challenges, and any necessary accommodations.
  3. Prepare your child: Transitioning to a new environment can be daunting for any child, especially those with special needs. Help ease your child’s anxiety by familiarizing them with the camp beforehand. Show them pictures, videos, or social stories about the camp to help them visualize what to expect. If possible, arrange a visit or tour of the campgrounds prior to the start of the session or attend an Open House event.
  4. Pack the essentials: When packing for camp, consider your child’s specific needs. Include any medications, comfort items, or adaptive equipment they may require. Provide clear instructions to camp staff regarding medication schedules, dietary restrictions, and any other pertinent information. The camp should be able to provide you a packing list as well.
  5. Celebrate success: Understand that challenges like homesickness may arise and are a natural part of the process. Focus on celebrating your child’s achievements, no matter how small, and encourage them to embrace new experiences and friendships. Many camps have a closing ceremony, which is the perfect time to acknowledge their accomplishments with their peers and counselors.
  6. Post-camp reflection: After the camp session is over, take the time to reflect on your child’s experience. Talk with them about their likes and dislikes. What were their favorite parts of their week? What were the hardest parts of their week? Gather feedback from camp staff regarding your child’s participation and areas for growth. Use this information to inform future decisions about summer camp and other recreational activities.
summer camp cabin

Sending a child with special needs to summer camp can be a great experience for both parent and child alike. By conducting research, fostering communication, and preparing your child with expectations, you can help ensure a positive and memorable camp experience for your child.


Camp Aldersgate provides life-changing experiences year-round for children and young adults with special needs. Programming is provided by Certified Recreational Therapists and other trained staff.

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