Inclusion can be a very touchy topic for parents and educators alike.
Some parents of children on the autism spectrum want their child to be in a mainstream setting with support if needed.Other parents of children on the autism spectrum know their child needs a tailored program that cannot be delivered in an inclusion or mainstream setting.
Some parents of children who have down syndrome want their child to be placed in a mainstream program with support regarding the academic component. Other parents know that their child’s needs require more than can be offered in an inclusive program.
Neither view is wrong, however, inclusion has been pushed to the forefront over the past few years, but sometimes it is just not the right fit for a child’s particular needs.
As far as a camp program goes, the same is true. Some parents feel more comfortable sending their child to an inclusive camp program that may have a few cabins for children with special needs. Other parents want their child to have a specialized camp program, a program where their child can learn new skills and be among friends who are also working on similar skills.
At Camp Lee Mar we think of it like this. If you had a child who had an interest in a particular sport, you would consider sending that child to a specialty sports camp. If you had a child that needed more academic support to build on their skills through the summer, you would consider sending you child to an academic based program to help them gain and retain their skills for the upcoming school year. If you have a child with special needs, even if they are in an inclusive mainstream program throughout the year, you may consider sending them to a camp that can give them the opportunity to work on skills in a specialized setting that they will need for their upcoming school year.
When discussing the potential placement of a child at Camp Lee Mar, I often ask the parents if they have spoken to their child about their camp placement. Parents usually respond that they have watched the videos together with their child on the Camp Lee Mar YouTube channel, or their child belongs to a local friendship circle group or local Special Olympic team. Their child is comfortable and well supported in a specialized setting and actually has more friends from Special Olympic groups or Social Skills Groups than their regular inclusive classroom setting.
So the bottom line is, an inclusion program or camp is great, but sometimes a child needs a specialized camp program to learn the skills to be fully able to participate in an inclusion setting. It has been said by many of our parents that their child learns more social skills and life skills in seven weeks at Camp Lee Mar, than they do during a whole school year, all while having an amazing time!
Written by Lynsey Trohoske
My name is Lynsey Trohoske, I am the assistant director at Camp Lee Mar. I have three amazing children, my middle child happens to be on the autism spectrum and is a camper at Lee Mar. I joined camp as a counselor in 1998 and loved the campers and their families so much that Camp Lee Mar became my second home!