Q: "Can my child with special needs attend sleep away camp at Camp Cheerful and what are some tips to make the transition to camp easier?”
A: Kathy Henry, Manager of Marketing Communications,
Achievement Centers for Children
As a parent of a child with special needs, you might be a little apprehensive about sending your child to an overnight camp, especially the first time. A little preparation ahead of time will help the transition for your child, and for your family.
Tips to make the transition easier:
- Visit the camp with your child. Call to have a tour with your child before their camp session. Check out all the different activity areas with your child, such as swimming, fishing, horse barn, games, camp fires, crafts, and especially their sleeping cabin. This will help them visualize their days and help to reduce their anxiety.
- Take photos at camp during your visit. Use the photos to talk with your child about what they will be doing at camp. Share positive and consistent messages to them – your attitude will be contagious.
- Involve your child in their packing. Get a list of what to bring, and what not to bring from the camp. Let your child make choices about what they will bring – blue shorts or green shorts?
- Practice sleepover. Arrange to have your child sleep overnight at a friend or relative’s house to feel more comfortable away from you.
- Tuck a note of encouragement or photo into your child’s bag to remind them of home.
The Achievement Centers for Children Camp Cheerful offers residential co-ed sessions in a beautiful outdoor environment in the Cleveland Metroparks for children and adults ages 7 and older with special needs. Camp counselors are experienced in caring for campers with special needs and a nurse is on duty 24 hours a day. Siblings and friends are welcome to join campers for a week of fun!
Your reward for your thoughtful preparation will be a child that returns home with smiles and stories, has gained a little independence and confidence, and is anxious to return to camp.