So how do summer camps for children with special needs like Camp Lee Mar set summer goals?
Once a family has registered their child for camp and completed the interview process we move onto setting summer goals. We use these goals to help place our campers in age appropriate groups with peers who are working on similar skills.
Summer camps for children with special needs – like Camp Lee Mar understand the need to individualize each camper’s program. Careful study is made of parent input, school IEPs, camper interviews, etc., so that the interests and needs of each child can be determined. From this foundation we encourage our campers to embrace and learn new skills and have new experiences, all of which they will build upon on their return home. We focus on building friendships which last throughout the year, and we also help our campers learn how to cope with the dynamics of group situations. Development of the whole child is our primary goal.
Our summer goals include . . .
Academic and Speech Goals – Camp Lee Mar provides a very structured program with six periods in each day. The program encompasses all the traditional camp activities but, in addition, includes strong speech, social skills, academics, daily living, physical therapy, and occupational therapy programs. These programs are headed by professionals in their fields, and run by current teachers, speech therapists, and students studying each subject. As our campers move into the senior program, we begin working on skills that will assist them in transitioning into their adult life. Our older campers take part in vocational training and job skills activities, with many senior campers holding a job at camp. Due to these programs, many of our campers are at Lee Mar as part of their Extended School Year (ESY).
Social and Emotional Goals – While Camp Lee Mar takes pride in our academic-related programs, we also want to make sure our campers are enjoying traditional camp activities and all the adapted special needs summer programs we have to offer. Days at Lee Mar are filled with smiles, laughs, and fun! Whether our campers are in the pool, playing kickball, fishing, painting, dancing, or participating in one of the many other activities at camp, we make sure our campers are having the time of their lives! Our goal is to give the campers an amazing summer experience while working on all areas of independent living skills. Our teachers and therapists are not only found in the classrooms, but also at activities, helping to generalize IEP goals during the day-to-day activities at camp. Our campers learn to fold their clothing, make their beds, shower independently, and work on dining-room skills. A seven week camp for special needs kids is the perfect length of time to have great fun while learning and mastering new skills.
Fun! – Every game, art project, event, meal, and trip is designed for our special needs campers. Parents know that their child will be included and able to participate to the best of their ability.
This means that every child at Camp Lee Mar not only has a full happy structured summer, but they leave camp with a sense of achievement, confidence and memories that will last a lifetime.
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!