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Sending your child to a day camp during the summer for the first time can be worrisome. These concerns can be even greater for parents sending their child with disabilities or special needs. Many parents of children with special needs, due to the nature of their disabilities, often are more dependent on their parents than their typical children. Parents may have some anxiety in being away from their child, especially for that first time.

Summer day camp may provide opportunities for growth in several ways. According to the American Camp Association, “Letting go allows children to develop autonomy and a stronger sense of self, make new friends, develop new social skills, learn about teamwork, be creative, and more. This time allows parents an opportunity to take care of themselves so that they will feel refreshed when their child returns home.” Your child will be able to experience memorable camp adventures, create positive, lasting memories, gain confidence, and learn how to be away from home in a safe and fun environment.

Is summer day camp right for your child?

The best place to start in determining if summer day camp is right for your child, and selecting the ideal camp, is to have a conversation with your child and think about what goals you might have for them.

Questions to ask or to consider might be:

  • Does your child love nature and outdoor activities such as swimming?
  • Do you think they are ready to learn a little independence, while being fully supported by trained camp staff?
  • Do you think it would be helpful for your child to become more comfortable meeting friends and trying new activities?

Plan ahead together with your child prior to the first day of their camp session:

  • Arrange a tour of the camp together with your child. This is an opportunity to meet staff, understand what activities your child will participate in, and get an idea of what their day’s schedule will look like. Talk about your child’s abilities, special needs, sharing specific examples with staff. You know your child better than anyone, and camp staff wants to make sure your child’s day is fun and meaningful from the first day. Ask questions and get comfortable.
  • Shop with your child to purchase necessary items such as swimwear and towel, sandals for the pool area, water bottle, snacks, etc. Involving them will help get them excited about their new experiences.
  • Read books with your child to help them envision their coming experiences, and ease any anxiety they may have. Check out recommendations from Barnes and Noble here.

Summer Day Camp at Camp Cheerful in Strongsville, Ohio

For over 70 years, children with and without disabilities have enjoyed and benefited from our summer day and overnight camps, and weekend respite camps at Camp Cheerful. Campers enjoy music, swimming, horsemanship activities, arts and crafts, outdoor playgrounds, sports, and special entertainment experiences brought to Camp Cheerful. Qualified and trained camp staff help campers of all abilities enjoy their camp experiences; a nurse onsite ensures their safety.

For more information about Camp Cheerful and the Achievement Centers for Children, visit our website.


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