Summer Camp: The Perfect Place to Have Some Fun!
Summer camp can be one of the best experiences for people with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Speaks has just announced the recipients of our Baker Summer Camp Grants program, and this month's Community Connections features tips and advice on choosing a summer camp, finding a camper scholarship, and how to get started. After all, summer is right around the corner!
Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Grants
In 2010, Autism Speaks launched the Baker Summer Camp program, a grant program that selects camps from around the country to receive scholarship funding for financially disadvantaged individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Selected camps choose eligible campers to receive funding based on an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, financial need, and the individual's opportunity for growth and development through the camp experience.
Click here to learn more and see if we have funded a camp in your area!
If there is a camp your child enjoys and you don't see it on the list, please encourage them to apply for grants in next year's funding cycle. If you or your family member is interested in more information about a camper scholarship, please contact the camp directly.
Finding a Camp Scholarship
Camps can be expensive. There will be some work required on your part to research and contact camps, but the good news is that most camps offer scholarships or provide a sliding scale based on financial need. We've put together a list of ideas to help you find a camper scholarship:
Don't hesitate to ask the camp. Most camps offer a sliding scale based on family income. Important questions to ask about camp scholarships and financial aid include:
- What sources of funding do they have for camper financial aid?
- What financial information do they require?
- Are there partial scholarships available?
- How many campers are served by a scholarship funds?
Local service organizations may be a good place to start. Check with your local service clubs such as: Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary Clubs, etc. as they often support individual camper scholarships.
Although many state budgets have been reduced for items like camp funding, it may be worth a call to ask your state departments of disability how you can access funding.
Community fundraising is a creative way to raise funds to cover the cost of camp: organize a car wash, bake sale, or recycle day and let your family and friends know the proceeds go to cover the cost of camp.
Camp is probably the best way for an individual with autism to have fun, relax, and take a break from a busy schedule. There are lots of options out there for summer camps for individuals with autism. Once you have narrowed your list of local camps, you can use this checklist to help evaluate your options.
Where to Find the Perfect Camp
You may have to do some of the groundwork, calling camps, going online, contacting agencies, etc. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Visit the Autism Speaks Resource Guide. Click on your state and select the category Camps.
- Visit the American Camp Association website at www.acacamps.org.
- Try an internet search.
- Visit your local library and ask the librarian to assist in your search.
- Check with your child's teacher. Many schools maintain a list of local camps.
Camp Spotlight: Camp Good Times of Charleston, SC
Camp Good Times is a nonprofit organization allowing local children touched by autism to have a typical summer experience along with their peers. Camp Good Times was founded in 1979 by a group of parents of children with autism and is the only camp in the Lowcountry devoted exclusively to children with autism and their friends.
Click here to learn more about Camp Good Times of Charleston, Inc.
Click here to read a blog post from Beth Weiner, Director of Camp Good Times.
Visit our Resource Guide to find special needs camps in your state or local area. We welcome new submissions to continually build the Resource Guide. If you know of additional special needs or inclusive summer camps, please feel free to submit them here.
We would like to hear from you! Share your story about you or your child's summer camp experience. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org