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

There are many types of summer camps, including ones for kids with learning disabilities. Explore this list of different types of camps and see which types might be right for your child.

If you’re able to send your child to summer camp, it’s important to find one that’s a good match. Make sure to think about your child’s interests, strengths, and needs. Here are eight camp options to consider for kids with learning and thinking differences.

1. Camps that build outdoor skills

Does your child love adventure and testing physical limits? Camps that offer outdoor adventures like hiking and 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 ADHD or learning differences.

2. 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, like dyslexia or ADHD. Other camps cover a range of challenges.

3. 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 challenges.

4. Camps that work on social skills

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

5. Camps that stress inclusion

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

6. 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.

7. Day camps

Some day camp programs focus on community service, sports, arts, and outdoor adventure. And there are day camps that help with learning and thinking differences.

8. General camps with small group sizes

If you and your child are looking for a traditional day camp 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. You may also want to ask the camps some key questions — like whether the counselors have experience with kids who have learning and thinking differences.


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