Summer Camps: Go Fun or Go Special?

I've had my son's summer camp picked out since ... oh, probably by day two or day three of last year's summer camp experience. Which was amazing! And I immediately decided that as long as he had an IEP in place or needs to be met, he'd be coming back to this wonderful speech and OT camp.

But now I need to actually write the check and submit the forms, and I admit I'm having some second thoughts.


Last year, we were in a very different place. Noah was coming from a very, very bad preschool experience and had some very, very profound and noticeable delays. Camp was a breath of fresh air. The teachers knew how to help a child like Noah, and he loved it. LOVED IT. So of course, there was no question that he'd go back to the miracle workers once again this summer.

But after talking with some of my fellow special-needs moms, I'm not so sure. We're in a different place now. Yes, Noah will be attending the district's preschool program again next year, but he will also very likely go to a typical school as well. Maybe we should test the waters with a typical camp first?

"I just want him to have FUN this summer," another mom said to me. And oh. Yes. That. If there's ever been a kid who worked his butt off all year and deserves some downtime, it's Noah.

The thing is, I know he will have fun at the speech/OT camp. The classroom, teachers, and some of the kids will all be familiar to him, and the routine will likely be pretty easy for him to get back into. Everyone there knows us and him and what he needs and how to help him.

But I also don't doubt that he'd probably be one of the LEAST challenging campers there, and doesn't have nearly the same level of need he did last year. But the camp is even more expensive this year. Does he really need it? Am I underestimating him? Would he maybe have even more fun at a music camp or soccer camp or just one of the glorified daycare camps his little neighborhood friends are attending?

(For the record, I NEED Noah to be in camp a decent chunk of the summer for work/childcare reasons, so keeping him home and saving the money for meeeee isn't an option.)

If you have a special needs child, do you automatically send them to special needs camps? (Or would, if it was an option, hypothetically/geographically/financially?) Or do you prefer to use the more laid-back summer camp experience to let your child have a chance to blend in with the typical kids?


Photo by Amy Storch 

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