Choosing what summer camps your child might attend can be a daunting task for any parent. It can be even more daunting if you are the parent of a child with special needs or chronic medical issues. How do you know if that camp is prepared for your special needs child? Will they be able to react appropriately if your child has a melt down, or is in need of medical attention?
We want our children to have that summer camp experience in a safe, nurturing environment. Yet finding the just the right camp for a child with special health, behavioral or emotional needs, can be a challenge. To help you find a summer camp that’s right for your child, we have compiled a list of summer camps in the Delaware area that specialize in many of the complex health and emotional issues our children face.
Special Camps for Special Needs Children
Camp Fairlee Manor
Camp Fairlee Manor is for children and adults with physical disabilities and/or cognitive impairments. Camp activities include arts and crafts, sports and games, nature walks, swimming, fishing, high/low ropes courses and canoeing. Located near Chestertown, Maryland, Camp Fairlee Manor is a fully accessible setting, ensuring children have full access to camp activities and programs.
Camp Fairlee Respite Camp
Camp Fairlee Manor Respite Camp is a weekend-based year-round camp for children and adults with the most involved physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral disabilities, including some medically-fragile individuals. The number of campers are fewer than those that attend the residential camp in order to meet extensive personal needs.
Camps Lenape And Manito
Run by the United Cerebral Palsey of Delaware, Camps Lenape and Manito are open to children and young adults (ages 3-21) with orthopedic disabilities as well as children without disabilities. Both campsites have paved walkways for easy access by wheelchair as well as a swimming pool with an accessible in-pool ramp. Through traditional camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts, music, nature and sports, camp counselors promote independence and self-esteem, helping to build self-confidence in campers with disabilities. This year’s camps will weekly from July 1st to August 9th, 7:00am to 6:00pm.
Children’s Beach House Summer Camps
Located on the Delaware Bay, Children’s Beach House Summer Camps provide a unique experience for children with special needs. Campers’ activities include swimming, sailing, kayaking, arts and crafts, nature, and more. Camp staff modifies activities to encourage all campers to participate at some level of success, thereby building self confidence. Contact the organization for exact camp dates.
Camp Victory is dedicated to providing a camp experience for children who live with chronic health problems, physical or mental disabilities, or the aftermath of catastrophic illness. Children attending Camp Victory have many and diverse special needs, including complex medical treatments. Camp Victory is planned and built to support all such needs. Check the Camp Calendar for the different types of camps offered. Camp Victory is located in Millville PA.
Mary Campbell Center Summer Camps
The Mary Campbell Center offers two week camp sessions from June to August for children with special needs between the ages of 3-21 and their siblings. Activities include field trips, swimming, games, arts and crafts, and cooking. Teamwork is stressed through out every activity. All camps are at the Mary Campbell Center in Wilmington DE.
Camp Lee Mar
Camp Lee Mar is an overnight camp for children with mild to moderate learning and developmental challenges. Campers can participate in traditional summer camp activities in a structured environment. The camp also offers speech and language therapy, adaptive athletic program, vocational training and therapeutic horseback riding. Camp runs from June 22 to August 9, and is located in Lackawaxin, PA. Financial assistance might be available.
DragonFly Forest Summer Camps
DragonFly Forest Summer Camps provide an overnight camping experience for children with Autism and complex medical needs. Campers enjoy a wide variety of camp activities in an environment that is safe and equipped to meet a variety of physical, medical and psychological needs. Sessions include Autism, Chromosome 22q11.2 Deletion, Respiratory/Asthma, and Sickle Cell Disease.Check the website for specific dates and camp details.
Camp Sequoia is an overnight summer camp for boys ages 8-17 who need help developing their social skills. The camp’s innovative program integrates Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking framework to help campers build their social thinking skills through an active, traditional camp program. Most campers are diagnosed with ADHD. Campers also include boys with social anxiety, learning differences which affect social skills development, as well as boys who may not have a formal diagnosis yet present with social learning needs.
Camp Sequoia fills an unmet need in the overnight camp market for children and teenagers who do not need the level of support offered at special needs overnight camps, yet need more than a what traditional overnight camp can offer. Camp Sequoia is located at The Perkioman School, Pennsburg PA, and runs from June 29 – August 11.
Speech Clinic Camp
The Speech Clinic Summer Camp is for children ages 3-5 who have been diagnosed with or are suspected to have speech-language or social/pragmatic language needs. Camps run from June 18 through August 1st in Hockessin DE.
Autism Spectrum/Aspergers Camps
Camp Fairlee Manor
Camp Fairlee Manor now offers two sessions dedicated to children ages 6-21 who are on the Autism Spectrum. Campers can safely enjoy canoeing, swimming, high ropes course, rock wall climbing, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and so much more. The Camp includes one-to-one counselor to camper ratio, is staffed with a nurse 24/7, and includes a sensory room. Autism camp weeks are June 16-21st and July 28-August 2.
The Explorer’s Club Summer Camp
The Explorer’s Club Summer Camp is designed for children with Aspergers, Autism and PDD between the ages of 4 and 18. Campers will work on social skills and independent living skills while enjoying lots of fun summer camp activities. The camps run from July 29 to August 30 in Wilmington DE.
Specific Camps For Specific Health Issues
Diabetes – Kamp For Kids
Kamp For Kids: Diabetes and You is for children with diabetes and their siblings and friends. The camp’s goal is to assist campers to better understand diabetes and to live a healthy life. Campers will learn about health and wellness through fun and exciting activities. Kamp for Kids is for children ages 4-14, and will be July 22-26 at the University of Delaware’s Newark campus.
Diabetes – Camp Possibilities
Camp Possibilities is a camp for children with diabetes between ages 8-15. Campers can experience swimming, fishing, arts and crafts, sports and other activities in a safe environment. Camp Possibilities will be July 28th to August 2nd at Camp Ramblewood, Darlington, MD.
Down Syndrome – Camp PALS Philadelphia
Camp PALS Philadelphia is for young adults with Down syndrome between the ages of 13-18. Each camper is paired with a counselor with whom they will room and travel with throughout the week. Camp will focus on fostering independence in all campers, and will be June 16-22 at Cabrini College, Radnor PA.
Visually Impaired – Camp SunnyBrook
Camp SunnyBrook for The Blind is a six-week long summer day camp for blind and visually impaired children living in either New Castle or Kent Counties. Campers will experience swimming, arts and crafts, nature programs, music, field trips and more. All activities are adapted for blind and visually impaired children. Contact the organization for full details, including dates.
Asthma – Asthma Camp
Asthma Camp is a week-long day program for Delaware children ages 7-11 with asthma. A full medical staff will be onsite during the camp to ensure all campers can enjoy their week. Activities include arts and crafts, outdoor activities, and nature explorations. Asthma Camp Lewes will be July 15-19 at the Virden Center. Asthma Camp Wilmington will be 24-28 at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Spina Bifida – Camp Spifida
Camp Spifida offers lots of exciting activities for children ages 6 to 18 who have spina bifida. Campers will enjoy crafts, fishing, swimming, dancing, paddleboats, campfires, hayrides, woodworking, a challenge course, and a 26 foot high climbing wall. Camp is fully staffed with medical personnel throughout the week. Camp will be at Camp Victory, Millville PA, July 21-26th.
Hearing Impaired – Deaf Camps Inc.
Deaf Camps Inc provide fun, safe communication-rich camps for deaf and hard of hearing children and children learning American Sign Language, between the ages of 8 and 18. Deaf Camp is the first full week of August and is located in Knoxville, MD.
Traditional Summer Camp Programs
Don’t forget to also check with more traditional camps such as Boys & Girls clubs, YMCA, local county/city recreational programs, and boy/girl scout camps. They may be able to work with your special needs child, giving him an opportunity for social inclusion. Be sure to thoroughly discuss your child’s special needs as well as your expectations of the camp before you commit. This can help ensure your child has the best overall possible camp experience.
Check the National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities page, Camps for Children With Special Needs, for other camps not mentioned here, or for camps in other geographic locations.
Do you have a summer camp that you’d like to recommend? Please let us know in the comments section below. Share your tips on why you think that camp is special.
Images from the following websites: The Explorers Club, Camp Manito, DragonFly Forest, University of Delaware Kamps for Kids, YMCA Brandywine Valley.
Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider donating to our organization via United Way #12691.