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9 Great Summer Camps for Your Child with Special Needs

When you think of summer camp, memories of making new friends and participating in new experiences arise. As a parent of a child with special needs, there are many organizations that you can look into so your child may experience the fun of summer camp as well.

The following is a list of camps throughout the Southern California area that are dedicated to providing an amazing summer camp experience for kids with disabilities by helping them engage in exciting, confidence-building activities with a new group of peers.

Ahead With Horses 

This program provides unique, highly motivating and effective therapy, education, and recreation through horses and related experiences to children with special needs. The aspects of equine therapy offered at AWH help kids with disabilities in many different areas—from physical and emotional to mental and social.

Website:  http://www.aheadwithhorsesla.org

The Armory 

This is a Community arts center, located near Old Town Pasadena, offering innovative approaches to creating and presenting visual arts to students of all ages and abilities. The Armory’s education and exhibition programs have encouraged children to experience, understand, and appreciate contemporary art by actively being involved in the creative process of art making.

Website:  http://www.armoryarts.org

Camp Nugget

Camp Nugget is a low-cost summer day camp program for children with special needs ages 5 through 12. The camp provides activities in swimming, sports and games, fitness, relaxation, and breathing exercises. It is operated by California State University, Long Beach and held each year in their Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

Website:  Camp Nugget at CSULB

Camp Paivika 

This camp offers overnight summer programs for children with developmental and physical disabilities such as autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and Down Syndrome. The program allows campers to make friends, try new things, and become more confident. Families are often surprised to find loved ones returning home with a new, can-do spirit, independently choosing clothes for the day, tying their shoes, or brushing their teeth without assistance.

Website:  http://www.CampPaivika.org

Danny’s Farm 

This organization offers a safe, structured, nurturing environment for children with autism spectrum disorders and other related developmental disabilities. Providing a rich 1 to 3 (and often 1 to 1) staff to student ratio, the program is offered during after-school hours, in the afternoons, on holidays, and during the summer months. The curriculum is specifically designed to serve children who may exhibit self-abusive behavior, excessively friendly advances toward others, or other behaviors that significantly affect their ability to be successful in traditional programs.

Website: http://www.dannysfarm.org

Destination Science 

This program helps kids explore a passion for science.  Campers – including kids with special needs – develop superb skills while at camp, and they bring that enthusiasm and knowledge home with them so the learning continues.

Website:  Destination Science – Southern California

Karate For All

Karate For All is a Community Occupational Therapy based martial arts program in Orange County that was developed specifically for children with special needs. Using Occupational Therapy knowledge and skills, KFA combines the discipline of martial arts to achieve motor, cognitive, social and processing goals.

Website:  http://www.karateforall.org

Reid’s Gift

Reid’s Gift offers summer camp and after-school programs for teens with special needs in Los Angeles. The organization supports all individuals with developmental disabilities through positivity and collaboration with activities such as swimming, sports, music, arts and crafts, yoga, dance, and social skills.

Website:  http://www.reidsgift.org

Surfers Healing 

This is a non-profit organization that teaches Autistic children to surf. Surf camps are free of charge to autistic children. Based in San Juan Capistrano, they’ve held camps in locations throughout North America, including Hawaii, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.

Website:  http://www.surfershealing.org

And as always, if you need other resources, please contact us.

American Disability Association is dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children with disabilities and actively provides support to enhance their quality of life. Whether you are dealing with federal or state benefits or struggling with a school district to get proper education for your child, we have the resources to help you. Many individuals and families managing a disability are not aware of the wide array of services available to them, or they do not know how to apply for these benefits in a way that is likely to succeed.

Contact us for help. Dial (888) 323-2133 or email us at [email protected]