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The Pandora’s Box of Summer Camps

Image result for pictures of mountains children outdoor swimming drawing on computer
Image result for pictures of mountains children outdoor swimming drawing on computer

Contemplating the plethora of summer camps for our children this summer can be daunting with choices from vividly adventurous outdoor pursuits to assemblies of academic activities ranging in settings the world over from the mountains of Colorado, busy city of London, the world over is spilling out a realm of entertaining pastimes to keep our children busy and us as parents happily guilt-free. Here I will outline the benefits of camps, what to look out for and how to prepare our special needs child for camp this summer.

Why do I believe a quality camp is a brain enhancing and therefore a developmentally progressive option?

I as a parent and a camp organiser,I have seen the enormous benefits a camp can instill into children of all ages. My own children have attended various camps which have included performing arts and music camp, family oriented camp with lots of nature visits, and they have attended  the A.R.R.O.W. camp which I organised and they all have fond memories of all the camps many years later expressing how they loved, loved loved them. Whilst running the A.R.R.O.W. camp in Trinidad, I could see the development of the children as the weeks progressed. My own children who attended enjoyed the social aspect. The development of the campers’ self-esteem was evident after only a short time using the A.R.R.O.W. programme and this was further developed during the various enriching activities. And many of the same children come back year after year.

It is important to remember that not all children want to go to a camp, but keeping your child’s brain active with plenty of diverse activities is the best way to go. This means not overloading on academics but especially for those who may be struggling at school, this should be scheduled into their regular day. Stimulating their brain with the learning they have been doing during the rest of the year should be a small portion compared to outdoor energetic play, imaginative play, social play, quiet reflection and free time which could include making choices between music, art,creating, reading writing and journal ling.

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Some interesting research was conducted on what common pursuits high performing scientists had and here are the results :

  1. They were also musicians

  2. they were highly artistic

  3. they wrote exceptionally well       (Barron 1969; Bachtold and Werner 1970)

Given these research results, it is clear that these are areas we should allow our children to have the opportunity to explore with pleasure and develop without judgement or pressure.

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Planning a Summer Camp for your Special Needs Child

As with all children, we need to determine our child’s interests, age and personality. We also need to seriously consider what activities will support his/her learning and general development as well as for school.

Prepare

Arrange a pre-visit without and then with your child to the camp to meet the staff and explore the area.

Prepare your child with discussions about the camp and you could use pictures

Ensure the caring support that your child needs are going to be met and that they know his/her likes and dislikes.

Ensure the staff are trained and experienced

Opt for a shorter day option if it means your child will retain the enthusiasm, rather than tire her out completely and the end of each day becomes too strenuous.

Help prepare your child if it is a residential camp by asking necessary questions to develop their logical frontal lobe part of the brain by fostering self-understanding. Such questions should help them to think of solutions. Following is an example of what you could say;

“Do you expect to feel homesick?”

“How do you think you will cope with this?”

“If you feel homesick, what could you do to feel better?”

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