Summer is here and with it the warmer, often more relaxed days ripe for new experiences and fun. For generations, that has meant a trip to summer camp. Could this be the year your child ventures out?
Summer camps offer so many opportunities and learning experiences for children no matter their hearing ability. This is true of traditional summer camps and for those camps expilicitly designed for kids with hearing loss or who are hard of hearing. And there are plenty of camps to choose from.
According to the American Camp Association (ACA), more than 14,000 day and resident camps exist in the U.S. 8,400 are resident (overnight), and 5,600 are day camps. In addition, 44% of camps offer specialized programs for individuals with disabilities.
Summer Camps for deaf and hard of hearing kids
Summer camps for deaf and hard of hearing children can be found nationwide and are created to meet the unique needs of these children without sacrificing anything that makes summer camp the great learning experience and adventure that it is. Options include:
- Sports camps (basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, etc.)
- Wilderness and beach camps
- Dance camps
- Technology camps
- Leadership camps
- Traditional summer camps with activities such as archery, zip lines, art and performance projects, and campfire fun
- Family camps that let everyone join in the summer fun
This resource from Gallaudet University can help you get started finding the perfect choice for your family.
These camps generally have
- Extensively trained staff – Not only do staff go through extensive training to work with deaf and hard of hearing campers, but most are also part of the deaf or hearing impaired community. They may even be former campers themselves.
- Visual Cues – Visual cues such as flashlights and flags are often standard to help everyone stay on the same page during the camp experience.
- Community – If fostering your family’s connection with the deaf and hard of hearing community is a priority, these specialized camps are usually a top pick.
As with any camp, it’s important to ask questions. These may include asking about communication preferences supported at the camp (ASL, spoken language, cues, etc.), activities, programs and camp goals or even what percentage of the staff has hearing loss.
Traditional Summer Camps
Summer camps for the hearing impaired may not always be an option or a preference for families, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the experience all together. Asking the right questions before enrolling your child can make all the difference! As with any summer camp experience ask about the program, activities and any particular areas of focus the camp may offer. Finding a camp that connects with your child’s interests can help keep them engaged and excited about the experience. In addition to these questions, discuss how the program may work for your hearing impaired child. Are there visual cues available? Is the staff able to work with your child’s communication needs and preferences? Are there any activities that may not work well for your child? Most camps are excited to welcome kids of all hearing abilities and are ready to work closely with families to make everyone’s experience a positive one.
While standard summer camps for kids of all hearing abilities may be able to give your child a great summer camp experience, if you prefer a summer camp for the hearing impaired, there is a wide variety available.
Which will you choose?