Summer camp is a fantastic experience that creates many lifelong memories shared with good friends. Swimming, boating, singing around a campfire, and many other fun activities fill the long summer days. If your child has a hearing loss, camp can be an excellent experience for them. There are many camps throughout the country designed specifically for kids with a hearing loss that allows them to enjoy a summer tradition.
If you are considering sending your deaf or hard of hearing child to a summer camp, you probably have many questions. It is vital to choose a summer camp that understands the unique challenges faced by those with a hearing loss. These camps must be well versed in using visual cues for communication as well as being able to sign. Some considerations may include:
Do I feel calm with my child staying away overnight or for several days in a row?
How close should the camp be to our home?
Are there camps that cater to specific interests like drama or art?
What level of support will they receive as a hearing-impaired camper?
Preparation For Camp
Sit down and talk to your child regarding what she or he can expect at camp. This conversation is essential to help keep them from being nervous or scared, especially if it is their first time away from home overnight. It is not unusual for children to be sad when you drop them off at camp, so be sure to remind them of all the fun activities ahead. Be sure to pack all of the clothing and gear they will need to make their camp experience a success. Ask questions. Does the camp you are considering encourage ASL, lip reading, or spoken language? What percentage of the staff are deaf or have a hearing loss? Does the camp offer family weekends or visits?
Types Of Camps
Depending on your child’s interests, there are many different types available for children who are deaf or who have a hearing loss. There are day camps, overnight stay camps, even camps that last up to two months! Activities range from the traditional swimming, boating, tennis, golf, and crafts to special interest camps including film and space exploration. Here are a few resources for researching summer camps for your child:
Gallaudet University. This educational center has a list of several summer camps designed exclusively for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
com. This extensive resource has listings for a wide range of summer camps. The list covers 30 states, and you can search by location, camp type, or length of stay.
American Camp Association (ACA). The ACA maintains a database of over 3,500 camps, 11,000 programs, and more than 42,000 sessions. There is something for everyone here.
Summer camp is an extraordinary experience for all children. One of the benefits of sending your child to summer camp is the opportunity for making new friends. As children with hearing loss often avoid social interaction, this is a great time to encounter new people in a safe and exciting environment.