Our son Woody was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 1/2 in 2000. Woody is non-verbal and communicates by typing on an iPad. While he requires an aide and an iPad, Woody’s childhood experiences have been very similar to those of his neurotypical sisters. He’s in an inclusion classroom in a terrific local public high school, doing grade-level academic work.
His school years have been thoughtfully and thoroughly planned as a result of the IEP process, but summers are a different story. It’s always been a challenge finding fun, appropriate and affordable activities for Woody during the summer. Keeping him engaged, entertained and safe.
When we began exploring options for him in the early 2000′s, we were surprised to discover how many excellent special needs summer camps existed. Some programs were exclusively set up to cater to kids with special needs, while others were geared towards the general population and making accommodations for special needs kids. All of them were staffed by caring and dedicated professionals, ensuring a safe and nurturing environment. And most of them affordable for any family – with many either free or providing “camperships” to families with a need for them.
We also discovered a number of amazing programs serving children with other special needs; grief camp for children dealing with the loss of a family member, equine therapy camp for kids with a variety of physical, developmental and social needs. And specific camps for children dealing with cancer, blindness, HIV/AIDS, diabetes… the full list is provided on the sidebar of this site.
Mary began organizing this information for an annual Summer Opportunities Fair held at the Westridge School in Pasadena. This has become one of the oldest and largest summer camp fairs in the country, and one of it’s unique features is a Special Needs Opportunities Booth. The Special Needs Camp Guide that Mary developed is updated and published annually, and has morphed and expanded into this site.
In exploring this site for a camp for your child, we hope you have the same sense of appreciation that we had in discovering the multitude of opportunities available for our kids….and that this site makes it a little easier for you to find them.