Secrets For Success

While it may be easy to train people in skills such as archery, training people to think of others can be difficult. Photos Courtesy Of YMCA Of Arlington, Texas

While it may be easy to train people in skills such as archery, training people to think of others can be difficult.

Photos Courtesy Of YMCA Of Arlington, Texas

All kids need a little camp in their lives! The fellowship and joy of the camp experience  must be made available to as many children as possible. Currently, too many children spend too much time looking at TV or other screens, and not enough time with others.

Camp involves playing outside in the fresh air and learning to get along with other children. The experience may include swimming, making crafts from items one might never have thought of using, and singing hokey songs. It’s inside jokes, kickball, and lost pink swim goggles. It’s about skits, counselors/role models, and activities that kids would never do at home.

Now imagine missing these experiences—never making a tie-dyed T-shirt, sitting in front of a campfire, playing Spud, or participating in a talent show. Imagine not receiving a camp nickname or meeting a favorite counselor. Envision a summer of kids staying home every day because people thought it might be too difficult to work with those with special needs.

When including children with special needs in a camp program, consider these important items for success:

  • Collaborating with others
  • Developing a training curriculum
  • Serving as a resource
  • Hiring staff
  • Communicating with families.

Collaborating With Others

Collaboration between a camp and the local school district is a great place to start. The YMCA of Arlington in Texas began a partnership with the ArlingtonIndependentSchool   District six years ago. Jacque Cummings, an in-home special-education instructor, came into my office and said she wanted us to work together to make sure that students with special needs could continue to improve upon their social skills during the summer.

Over time, this partnership flourished. Currently, once summer school ends in June, about 45 to 50 children attend the summer camps Monday through Thursday during the month of July. Some of the children’s time is spent with special-education instructors, but the rest of the day is spent enjoying camp activities.

Developing A Training Curriculum

Having a good relationship with the local school district will also come in handy when considering training. Invite school personnel to camp to share their knowledge of special needs with staff members, such as information about modifications and adaptations. Some

CB1113_Lecroy_SpecialNeeds2children who struggle can achieve success with small adaptations, but staff members must be taught how to accommodate these variations. For example, sharing stories with children teaches them about social situations. School personnel may also help some children better understand a situation or expectations that will lead to more appropriate responses. Teachers who work with special-needs children have the expertise to assist others in acquiring these skills.

Serving As A Resource

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