Summertime is nearly here (hey, if you were in Philly this weekend, you would have sworn it was here already)! All this warm weather reminds me that my son has nothing to do this summer.
Our local township has a wonderful summer camp that he's attended since he was five, but he's aged out now. At 13, he's on his own, and I'm on my own looking for a camp that:
- He can feel comfortable in - no extreme physical activity (too much sensory overload) and a quiet area he can go to if the activities are just too much for him that day.
- Counselors who will be sympathetic to his occasional quirks and potential need for some downtime between activities (his old camp had counselors that had known him for years, and he was allowed to sit out whenever the need arose).
- Kids in his age group that are friendly and tolerant of a kid who doesn't always act "normal" (a total crap shoot at a new camp).
Easter Seals to the rescue! As the largest provider of recreation and camping services for the disabled in the country, Easter Seals is committed to providing accessible and barrier-free camping and recreation programs for children and adults of all levels. You can find more information here, or by contacting your local Easter Seals office.
We have a wonderful camp just half an hour up the road from us, but this is where I have to issue one caveat to their wonderful programs: Transportation is not usually provided. This is fine if you're a stay-at-home parent or have family or friends nearby who are willing to take on the burden of transportation.
I'm not lucky enough to have any of that, so that camp brochure gets a longing glance before I toss it in the trash, and this year, David gets to stay home and watch TV and play video games in the house all summer while mom is working. It's not ideal, but it's reality - not just for me, but for so many parents of special needs kids.
Many of these camp programs run 9am - 3pm (which makes anyone working a 9-5 job unable to accommodate pickup and dropoff) and unfortunately, with the shoestring budget they operate on, before/after care and transportation are expenses they just can't cover.
Please consider Easter Seals when you make your charitable donations. For many of these kids, this is the only camp they'll ever be able to experience, and those experiences make a childhood.