This is a blog post by Liz Applegate, the Program Marketing and Social Media Manager at Camp Summit.
Ah, summer camp.
If you were a summer camper you can probably remember it like it was yesterday: Fun activities like horseback riding or arts and craft; roasting marshmallows around a campfire; and even staying up late, giggle under the covers with your cabin-mates.
Or maybe, like me, hearing camp stories from childhood friends would have you green with envy and dreaming of the day when you could share the experience with your own children.
But what about a child with Autism? What about your child with Autism? Could these dreams hold true for them as well?
These are questions the staff at Camp Summit is asked by many possible first-time camp families and the response is always a resounding “Yes!”
Camp Summit is unique in its ability to care for campers with no upper age limit. Because of this, success can be built and measured continuously from age six through adulthood. Not only is success seen through continued yearly attendance but also watching campers grow and mature through the years.
From mild to severe, campers with Autism are nurtured to take part in activities with their group and many participate in the much coveted dance at week’s end. This takes place in an individual’s timeframe-maybe over a few days or maybe over a several years.
Besides a much needed respite for family and caregivers, the benefits of attending camp reaching into the daily lives of our campers and families is often seen. A family recently expressed great joy in sharing news of a successful family vacation with their child with Autism. Through the experience at Camp Summit, the camper was able to fully participate in the activities of the vacation creating memories for all.
But as a caregiver how can you help ensure a successful camp experience for your camper?
Just as your summer camp experience (or that of your friends’) was unique for your needs and interests, so must a camp for a camper with Autism be unique. Camps, even those for campers with disabilities, are not “one size fits all” and it’s important to find the right one for your camper.
Some important questions to consider:
- What is the camper to counselor ratio?
- How does the camp staff handle transitional times (moving from activity to activity)?
- How are food allergies and sensitivities handled?
- What if your camper doesn’t want to participate in a given activity?
The benefits of camp are often immeasurable. From needed rest for the family or experiences outside the normal realm of activity, often small accomplishments can be measured in treasured memories by the camper and their families. And through the ongoing efforts of a trained camp staff and continued participation, your camper can enjoy fun experiences from your own summer camp memories…and maybe even leave you green with envy for a roasted marshmallow or two.
For more information on camping programs, including our new fall camping schedule, at Camp Summit, visit our website at www.campsummittx.org.