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Winter 99 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Ron Lucey, TCB Consumer Resources Coordinator

With recent memories of the holidays still looming, it may be difficult to get motivated to plan for your child's summer camp experience. However, before the last leaves have fallen from Texas pecan trees, most summer camps have already finalized the 1999 summer camp schedule and are preparing to mail their camp applications in early spring. It is important to be aware of the deadlines for most popular summer camps in order to avoid a last minute scramble for camp placements. Some camps may not advertise their application deadline but their summer camp sessions quickly fill up on a first come first served basis.

Residential summer camp programs offer your child a good opportunity to practice and learn new skills, develop a greater sense of confidence and independence, meet peers with similar interests, make new friends and, most importantly, have fun. Shorter camp sessions or day-camp programs may be recommended for younger campers who may not be emotionally prepared to spend more than a week away from home.

The information and resources provided in this summer camp article are intended to help you more easily make decisions in selecting and applying for the best summer camp placement to meet your child's needs. The inclusion or exclusion of a camp in this article should not be considered an endorsement by TCB of any particular camp. When selecting a camp, parents should visit the facility, meet the camp director or counselors, and talk to parents whose children have attended the camp in past years. Each camp has its own special attributes and no single camp is the "best" for every child. Trying to match the needs of your child with a camp that will meet those needs should be a leading consideration. Careful research will ultimately result in an informed decision to find the camp that is the "best" for your child.

Internet Resources

Many more camps than are listed here can be searched for on the Internet through camp web pages and search engines. These web pages include nationwide directories of summer camps that serve children with disabilities, inclusion camps, and camps that meet your child's specific interests. Most of the web pages allow camp searches by several categories including a specific state or geographic area, type of disability, religious affiliation, or recreational interests. These Internet tools are a good resource for narrowing your camp selection, although visiting the camp facility and meeting with camp staff is highly encouraged.

American Camping Association < http://www.aca-camps.org/search.html/ > This web page lists accredited camps throughout the United States that are required to meet 350 criteria for health, safety, and educational and recreational standards.

Kids Camps < http://www.kidscamps.com > "The Internet's most comprehensive directory of camps and summer experiences" has a search engine with category listings of camps that serve children with disabilities.

CampPage Guide to Summer Camps < http://www.camppage.com > CampPage is a resource for information relating to residential summer camps in the United States and Canada. Their focus is on traditional summer camps with general programs rather than specialty camps or sports camps. This web page lists a brief description of each camp with contact information for obtaining more detailed information.

Camp Channel < http://campchannel.com > "Guiding you to the summer camp that's right for you, this automated search engine also provides a directory of camps, a home shopping center for all your camp needs, and much more."

Resources for Local Summer Day Camp and Recreation Activities

In addition to the well-known and more established residential camps throughout Texas, there are many single-session summer camps sponsored by local agencies and community organizations. Other local camp opportunities include day-camp programs and recreational activities sponsored by a city's Parks and Recreation Department. Some of these programs plan for the special needs of children with disabilities while other programs seek to include children with disabilities into mainstream day-camps and recreational activities. These summer camp and recreational programs are too numerous to list in this article. Information on regional camps, local day-camps and recreational activities may be obtained through several sources. These include your local school district, your child's vision teacher, regional Education Service Center, Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) children's caseworker and transition counselor, and your city's Parks and Recreation Department. Statewide information on deafblind camp opportunities may be obtained by calling Randy Feille with the TCB Deaf-Blind Department. Information for contacting your nearest TCB children's caseworker or transition counselor or TCB's Deaf-Blind Department may be obtained by calling (800) 252-5204.