Five Benefits of Summer Camp for Your Child With Special Needs


Attending summer camp can be a beneficial experience for any child. For children with special needs, camp can be a reprieve from some of the struggles of home life and can have a significant impact on a child’s life. These camp directors at special needs summer programs share just a few of the many benefits of camp for a child who has special needs.

Looking for camps for kids with special needs? Check out The Best Summer Camps for Kids with Special Needs in NYC and Beyond

Feeling of Belonging

“We find that what is truly transformative for our campers is that, often for the first time, they feel like they are a part of a larger community and that their voice really matters. That feeling of belonging is key for any child as they develop. Nothing can compare to how a child feels when they know that they are accepted for who they are,” says Debbie Sasson, Director of Camp Akeela, a coed overnight camp in Vermont & Wisconsin that helps children improve their social skills. “Our campers often are a minority at their schools and the peers and adults in their life expect them to be different. At the right camp, they can be ok just being themselves. Once they feel that level of acceptance, they are more open to honest and empathic feedback from trusted adults and peers about how they may find more success in the world outside of camp.”

Build Confidence

Jaime Jezek, Director of Camp Sun ‘N Fun, a day and overnight camp for children and adults with special needs in Williamstown, NJ says, “Other camps might have large goals like passing a deep water swim test, but here, a goal might be making just one friend or using a pair of scissors in art. Every achievement is celebrated as special.”

Make Friends

“Most parents come to me and say they want their child to be included and to make good friends,” comments Elyse Miller, Director of the Inclusion Program at Buckley Day Camp in Roslyn, NY. “Parents will tell me that their child doesn’t have friends at home and if they do, they are children like them. At camp, their friends are typical who just want to be their friends. One of my seven-year-old campers with medical issues invited all her camp friends to her birthday and every child came. Her mom couldn’t believe that everyone wanted to be there for her daughter.” Jezek adds, “Peer and social interactions are key things we hope to provide. A lot of our campers don’t make strong connections when at home. There often isn’t time for things like playdates because their regular care and therapy is time-consuming and takes precedence. We will tell a parent whose child has autism that their son made a friend and they were holding hands. They can’t believe it and said their child doesn’t hold anyone’s hand!”


Miller often hears from parents before camp about some of the tasks their child can’t do by themselves. “During the summer, I’ll call them and say that he can cut his own food and put on his own socks. There are no issues at all. Camp allows parents to loosen up and allow their children room to grow and to do things on their own.”

Be Themselves

“Many of our campers are mainstreamed at school and there might only be one or two other children with special needs who understand their journey,” states Jezek. “At a school, the wheelchair ramp is often separated from the main entrance but at camp, no accommodations need to be made because the camp environment is ready for them. Everyone is using chubby brushes and chubby markers. It’s good for our campers to know that no one is looking at them differently and that everyone has a place here.”

Relevant Directory Listings

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Trinity School

<p dir="ltr">Come join us for another summer of fun, exploration and discovery. Our campers get to engage with each other in the following activities: Swimming, Golf, Chess, Lego Robotics, Art, Dance, Multisports and Storytelling (subject to change)…and of course, ice cream or ices every day! We will supply our campers with a daily snack but you will need to provide your own lunch. Come join us for a fantastic summer!!!</p> <p dir="ltr">Camp runs from 8:30am - 3pm.</p> <p dir="ltr">Session #1: Tuesday, June 20th - Friday, June 23rd (closed Monday 6/19th)</p> <p dir="ltr">Session #2: Monday, June 26th - Friday, June 30th </p> <p dir="ltr">Session #3: Tuesday, July 3rd - Friday, July 7th (closed Tuesday, July 4th)</p> <p dir="ltr">Session #4: Monday, July 10th - Friday, July 14th </p> <p dir="ltr"> Session #5: Monday, July 17th – Friday, July 21st </p> <p dir="ltr">       For more information, please contact:</p> <p dir="ltr">        Seth Goldberg,</p> <p dir="ltr">        Director of Afterschool Programs & Summer Coordinator </p> <p dir="ltr">        Ph: (212) 932-6849</p> <p dir="ltr">        E: [email protected]</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.44; margin-left: 36pt; background-color: #ffffff; margin-top: 2pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"> </p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-849a3a81-7fff-34df-9c6e-6714b519a740"></span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.44; margin-left: 36pt; background-color: #ffffff; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; padding: 2pt 0pt 0pt 0pt;"> </p>

Harlem Math Institute

<p>Harlem Math Institute aims to inspire, educate, and entertain, giving kids the math skills to improve confidence and academic performance and prepare them for STEM fields.</p>

Riverside Park Multi Summer Sport Camp

<p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial;" data-sheets-value="{" data-sheets-userformat="{">A 12-week multi-sport program that provides healthy fun inside beautiful Riverside Park. Choices of Baseball, Basketball, Flag football, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball and multi-sport options for ages 4–16 with instruction provided by qualified staff in a safe and fun atmosphere. </span></p>