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Exceptional Lives Team
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March 29, 2021

The Boys (and Girls) of Summer

When it gets sunny out, we all start to think about summertime. But camp plans are complicated, especially during COVID, and even more so for those of parenting children with disabilities. Here, two parents of children with disabilities share their plans for child care during summer.

 

The sun is out and temps are warming up and we’re all starting to think about summer camp! But finding the right fit for kids with disabilities can be tough! Whether you’ve got a plan locked down or are still in the weeds trying to figure it all out, Exceptional Lives is here to help. 

We talked to two of our team members to get a sense of what they’re thinking about summer camp for their own children. 

Carey (in Massachusetts): Is it that time of the year, again? Bring on the warmer weather but not the stress of summer camp planning, please! For now, planning is fairly easy and I am thrilled there is a simple option for Emerson. The lead-up to camp starting is always a stressor for him (and me!). We found a camp that works for him and I have no intention of making any changes  – don’t fix what isn’t broken! 

For now, it’s a no-brainer to keep him in a familiar setting in order to keep him somewhat even-keeled. 

He will be going to the same YMCA camp he went to last year. It has smaller groups due to COVID and that works well for Emerson since he tends toward anxiety in large group settings. The camp is not competition-driven or full of activities that make him feel pressured and this is also a huge plus. I consider myself lucky that this camp has strictly outdoor activities for campers which is so important to us in these pandemic times. 

We have not spent enough time in nature moving our bodies!  In our house there has been So. Much. Screen. Time. Romping around a field, collecting shells and rocks at the beach, taking a swim at the pool, sitting on coolers having lunch and socializing (while masked, of course) is a lovely, laid back scenario for my son.

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Jackie (in Louisiana): The official start of Spring only recently arrived, yet my search for summertime childcare started well before the beginning of March. It was surprising to me, that planning so many months in advance was typical for working parents. But really, I should not have been shocked. We all know the long list of ridiculous hoops families have to deal with, even more so when that family has one or more children with disabilities. 

This year, however, when I say ‘well before’, I actually mean February… of 2020. Like many of you, my plans last year got thrown out the window because of the pandemic. Our choices slowly narrowed down to one, and that one center had no plans to follow Covid prevention guidelines. It was a risk my family could not take. I was lucky enough to work for a flexible company, but many parents did not have that option. 

As a single Mom, I still had to work from home, but with my super active daughter in the background. You all know how much fun that was! Many rules had to be broken, like ignoring recommendations on screen time, which made the guilt set in. I found this video clip from a webinar on mental health helped; it took some of the pressure (to be the perfect parent) off my back.

Going forward, I’m glad she will get more outdoor time and interaction with other kids, a thing some children with sensory needs crave.

But it wasn’t easy to find. 

There wasn’t going to be a day camp option for us again this summer. The usual church day camps close to home were not opening because they were unable to meet COVID regulations. What’s a mama supposed to do? Well this one convinced a local game room to offer their mini-sessions over the long school break. Parents of children with disabilities have to think outside the box! 

Exceptional Lives can help you find a camp for your child.

Our Resource Directory has listings to help families of children with disabilities find summer camps in Louisiana and Massachusetts.

What are your challenges with summer camps? What has worked – or NOT worked for your family? We want to hear from you! Visit us on Facebook and Instagram – Let’s start a conversation!

 

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