With the overwhelming number of camps offered during this season, it becomes a challenge, as a parent, to pick the best summer camp for your kids. We’ve shortlisted a few questions you need to answer so you can pick the perfect summer camp match for your children considering the major factors to make sure it’s a great summer experience for you and for your little one.
Keep in mind that this list is specifically to make sure that children with sensory challenges, some limited physical abilities, and speech delays have a great experience. Some of the focus areas include the environment, activities, and level of care.
Let’s start with the first question that will indicate ratios between staff and children:
- How many campers do you enroll? What are the ratios?
Kids with sensory modulation or regulation challenges need to have a limited number of campers per staff or teacher. You want to get the sense of how much care and oversight there will be available and what are the staff-to-child ratios.
Due to the nature of the sensory challenges, some children require more attention than others. Thus, there is a need to avoid camps with too many children.
Not only do we worry about oversight, but also, with a controlled number of enrollees, seeing less amount of kids reduces the anxiety level of kids as well.
This second question revolves around enjoying activities:
- What are the types of activities that children will enjoy?
There are several types of camps you may wish for your kids to join in. The summer is a perfect time to nurture your kids’ special needs through programs that cater to occupational therapy based needs, speech therapy needs, and Sensory enriched therapy as well. These types of camps are focused on the special needs of your child. It would be great if you are able to check offered activities for a child needing in these areas,
Having organized outdoor activities most especially, and including games, is a plus. For example, there are camps offering waterfront programs like water slides, pontoon boat rides, and even fishing. These are great activities for children who need movement enriched programs. For activities as such, make sure to check for the competent supervision of qualified lifeguards.
In case you don’t prefer waterfront activities, there are camps offering games like tug of war, kite play, and obstacle courses which cater to a child needing movement based programs. The main part is making sure that the environment will be a great place for your child to thrive and be safe.
Other activities offered should help them explore their senses. Camps offer a variety of specific activities where creative and energetic programs are laid out with the supervision of a counsellor and/or staff member who is always available. Some examples of activities that are great for kids who benefit from enriching their senses include exploring water play activities, play-doh, sand, exploring different surfaces, sports, and other similar activities.
An integral part of a summer camp is specially making sure that goals are achieved for your kids with sensory challenges is to keep them engaged at times, but also to block off time for kids to decompress and just slow down.
Let’s talk about the environment:
- Is the camp setting conducive enough for your kids’ learning and enjoyment?
With a little over a year since the pandemic scare, where restrictions have been heightened, you definitely have to make certain considerations to see how conducive for learning or fun the environment of the camp will be. Safety protocols must be checked.
Facilities may differ accordingly - some have modern themed instructional areas, some are intended to look rustic. If you’re considering special interest camps for your kids this summer, find time to check for specialized equipment for instruction.
For first time campers, it is important that you get to check the vibe and the setting of the area for your kids to be at ease. This way, the drive or inspiration sets in as soon as camp starts. Little things matter to kids’ learning and development especially for kids with sensory integration difficulties, so might as well keep an eye on them too.
Make sure to check for spaces for both indoor and outdoor activities. There are those that mix indoor and outdoor activities to help improve the child’s physical well-being, emotional health, and cognitive functioning especially that these kids are with special needs.
Checking for light and sound adjustment has to be on your to-do list as well as some kids are sensitive to light and sound, so being able to adjust and cater to these children is very important.
And of course, the staff and counselors that will be watching over our kids:
- Are the staff qualified and competitive enough at camp?
Entrusting our kids is quite a big responsibility. Our goals are usually to make sure that activities offered in camp are sensory based, where speech/communication skills are developed. The counselors and staff must be trained and have experience when it comes to taking care of kids who have sensory issues.
The activities that are put together must also be programmed by competitive, well-trained therapists and staff.
Make sure you entrust your kids’ summer to highly-trained professionals. The number of staff should be a priority - enough to cater to the kids. Therapists have to be present on site - particularly those with a wide range of experience with working in varied settings. Not only that, these therapists and staff have to love working with children.
Checking the summer camp team’s credibility, the credentials of its staff, their competitiveness in the field and the love for kids is essential. Make sure you don’t miss this part.
Enjoy the process, camp is an integral part of growing up and hopefully your child will enjoy this special moment.
Finding the perfect match of a summer camp in 2022 might be a little taxing but when we find answers to all these questions, it’s worth all the time spent for research and camp visits. After all, we do what’s best for our kids, don’t we?