8 types of summer camps for kids who learn and think differently

Whatever your child’s interests, strengths, and needs are, if you’re able to send your child to camp, it’s important to find one that’s a good match. The American Camp Association’s website lets you search for specific types of programs. That includes camps for kids with learning and thinking differences. Here are eight great options to consider.

Camps that build outdoor skills

Does your child love adventure and testing physical limits? Camps that offer outdoor adventures, from hiking to rafting to wilderness camping, can help kids discover strengths they never knew they had. Adventure camps can also help build confidence. Some of these camps specialize in serving kids with or learning differences.

Camps for kids with learning and thinking differences

There are many camps that specialize in helping kids with learning and thinking differences. Most offer a mix of typical camp activities plus instruction in specific areas. Some camps focus on a single challenge such as . Other camps cover a range of challenges. These may include learning differences as well as behavioral differences such as ADHD and .

Camps that build specific interests

Struggling students may not always love school. But if they have a passion for specific activities like drama, sports, or science, there are specialized camps where they can pursue what they love doing most. Programs like these offer some great benefits. Kids get to build skills in an area they enjoy. They get to spend time with peers who share similar interests. And they get to focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses.

Camps that work on social skills

If your child has trouble making friends and fitting in, you might want to look into camps that specialize in social skills challenges. These camps are usually geared toward kids with certain learning and thinking differences. That includes ADHD, , and language processing issues. Kids enjoy typical camp activities. But they also spend structured time working on social skills.

Camps that stress inclusion

Your child doesn’t have to go to a camp for kids with learning and thinking differences to feel accepted. Some general camps make inclusion their particular focus. Many Quaker camps have a theme of tolerance and self-growth, for instance. And there are camps without religious ties that are known for celebrating diversity and differences, too.

Camps that focus on service learning

Many kids with learning and thinking differences are used to getting help. But it can be a boost to their self-esteem to be able to give help. Service programs can build kids’ sense of self-worth and accomplishment in the “real world.” Plus, everybody is learning new skills at the same time.

Day camps

There are as many types of day camps as there are of sleepaway camps — if not more. There are programs that focus on community service, sports, arts, and outdoor adventure. And there are day camps that help with learning and thinking differences.

General camps with small group sizes

If you and your child are looking for a traditional day or sleepaway camp, you may want to find one that has small group sizes. A smaller environment may make it easier for your child to form friendships and stay focused. Plus, these camps may offer more supervision.

Want to search for camps by location and specific features? The American Camp Association is a good resource. GreatSchools lists some helpful directories of camps for learning and thinking differences. You may also want to ask the camps some key questions such as whether the counselors have experience with kids who have learning and thinking differences.

About the author

About the author

The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.


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