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Summer Camps for Disabled Youths & Adults in SC: Tools You Can Use

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Summer Camps 2

School is ending, and parents have begun researching summer camps and activities their children, teens, and young adults can partake in over the next few months of summer vacation.  For families of disabled youths and adults, it can be a unique challenge to find summer camps that specializes, accommodates, and are fully accessible for the disabled.  The SC Assistive Technology Program has created a masterlist of summer camps in South Carolina that I thought would be timely to share for the “Tools You Can Use” series.

Why Summer Camps Are Important for Disabled Youths & Adults to Participate In

Attending ummer camps are childhood rites of passage for many who reminisce on the friendships, fun, and adventures being away from home for weeks or months afforded them.  Summer camps provides youths and adults opportunities to explore the outdoors and indulge in creative activities that they may not have had the chance to do at home.

For disabled youths and adults, the ability to connect with other disabled peers is a tremendously positive experience that cannot be overlooked.  Developing friendships early on as a disabled person can shape how one views their disability, their confidence and self-esteem levels.  Seeing and befriending those who “look like you” helps one to realize that being disabled is not “weird,” “alienating,” or “uncommon” – there are many who share similar life experiences as they do.  The tight-knit support systems that are forged at camps can be life-long, and for some, the only kind of positive support they may ever know.

Though I never went to summer camp as a child, I do wish I had.  I get a tinge of envy when I hear other disabled persons share their summer camp tales, and some of the stories and activities sound like ones that I would have enjoyed participating in.  If a disabled youth or adult has the chance to go to summer camp, I strongly advise them to do so.  Going to camp not only allows for friendships to flourish, but also gives campers the safe space to grow and learn freely without parental/caregiver oversight.  Though parents and caregivers mean well, they tend to be overprotective of their disabled youths and adults.  Summer camp allows the disabled person to exert their freedom, and parents see that giving such freedom is necessary for development, and this will hopefully nudge them to loosen the control reins more.

SC Assistive Technology’s Masterlist of Summer Camps

SC Assistive Technology’s list of summer camps categorizes camps by disabilities and needs.  The categories are general/multiple disability, asthma, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), visual and/or hearing disabilities, brain injury, cancer and blood disorders, AAC/communication, and mental health.

The following information is available for most of the summer camps listed:  name of camp, dates held, registration deadlines, location, camp sponsoring organization, cost, participants (age groups and disability types), description of what takes place at the camp, and website to access further information.

I reviewed the list, and was very impressed that South Carolina has so many affordable options for disabled persons, and parents and caregivers to choose from.  Many of the camps outlined are free or cost under $300 to register, which will work in the budgets for many families and individuals interested in participating.

Two summer camps caught my attention because disabled adults can participate.  Irmo/Chapin Recreation Commission Activities offers many events throughout the summer for community residents to enjoy.  One such event offered is Camp YOUniversity, which is for disabled adults that is held July 28-30th.  Camp YOUniversity costs $74, and allows campers to socialize and take a small town tour each day.

Camp Spearhead offers 8 week-long residential camps during June and July in the Upstate area of SC.  Camp Spearhead serves close to 600 campers during the course of its summer camp sessions.  Children and adults can participate during the summer sessions, as well as its weekend programs that are offered during the school year.

Final Thoughts

If you are wondering what you, or your disabled youth or young adult, can get into this summer, this list may provide a way to escape the boredom and dive headfirst into some fun.  Though this list mainly focuses on camps in SC, there are a few out-of-state options shared that may pique the interest of my readers, as well.

If you decide to attend a camp, or have signed your disabled youth or adult up for one, tell me about it!  Also, if you have fond memories and stories of your summer camp days, do share!  Summer is the time for new adventures and excitement – let’s make Summer 2015 a memorable one.

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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