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9 questions to ask a special needs camp

Special needs summer camp: 9 questions to ask

Updated: August 1, 2023 · 5 Minute Read

Pauli Novak, MBA

Reviewed by:

Pauli Novak, MBA, Marketing Manager at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC)


  • Keep in mind the camp's location, duration, and whether it is an overnight camp or a day camp.
  • Special needs camps should offer specialized programming or activities, such as sensory activities for campers with autism or adapted sports for campers with physical disabilities.
  • Your insurance may help pay for summer camp if there is a licensed occupational, physical, or speech therapist providing services at the camp.

Special needs summer camps: 9 questions to ask:


1. What accommodations do you provide for special needs kids?

Is the camp accessible? Make sure the facilities and activities are wheelchair accessible (if that applies to your child) and that the staff is trained to work with children with disabilities. Check if the camp has a nurse or medical personnel on-site and if they are able to administer medication if necessary.


2. Can you cater to my child’s specific needs?

Some camps may specialize in working with children with physical disabilities, while others may focus on those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. It’s important to choose a camp that is equipped to meet your child’s individual needs. Special needs camps should offer specialized programming or activities, such as sensory activities for campers with autism or adapted sports for campers with physical disabilities.


3. What’s the camper-to-counselor ratio?

You want to make sure your child gets the attention they need and deserve. Some camps may offer 1:1 support while others may have a higher camper-to-counselor ratio. Check the camper-to-counselor ratio to ensure that there are enough staff members to give your child the care and attention they need.


If your child needs extra support you may want to look for camps that allow caregivers to attend along with the child. And family camps are also a great option for parents that want to attend camp along with their child or simply want to be a part of introducing their child to the camp experience.


4. How do you keep campers safe?

When leaving your little ones in the care of someone else, safety is very important! Are there any dangerous areas near the camp like bodies of water, or major roadways? How does the camp make sure that campers stay away from these areas? 


You’ll also want to find out about the staff at the camp. Does the camp run background checks before they hire someone? Is there any policy about staff being left alone one-on-one with campers?


5. What are the travel logistics?

Think about how far away the camp is. Some camps may provide transportation for your child, while others may require you to make the commute. If you need to drive your child, is it feasible for you to travel there? And whether you are the driver or not, will your child be ok with the length of the drive?


Consider the length and duration of the camp as well. Is the camp half day or full day? Does the camp last for one week or an entire month? Some children may do better with shorter camps while others may prefer longer ones.


6. Is your program a sleepaway or day camp?

Sleepaway camps can be a great opportunity for kids to gain independence, make new friends, and experience new activities. If you choose this option, consider your child’s level of comfort with being away from home for an extended period of time.


Day camps offer a more familiar environment for kids, as they return home each day. This can provide a sense of comfort and routine for children. Day camps can also be more convenient for families who have other obligations or who live far from a sleepaway camp.


7. What do other families think about your program?

It’s always a good idea to get feedback from other parents who have sent their children to the camp. Ask the camp if they have any families you can talk to. If it’s not possible, read online reviews and check the camp’s website for testimonials from previous campers and their families.


You should also check to see if the camp has any sort of accreditations.


8. How much do camps for special needs children cost?

Camp prices vary depending on factors like structure, overnight vs day camps, duration of the camp, and even location. Camps in large metropolitan areas may be more expensive than camps located in smaller suburbs.


Some camps are free, while others can cost over $1,500. Many camps offer scholarships or financial aid. Be sure to speak directly with a camp you are interested in even if you think it may be slightly out of budget.


9. Will insurance help pay for special needs camps?

If your child is attending a therapeutic camp where a licensed occupational, physical, or speech therapist is providing services, there is a chance your insurance may help pay for the camp.


This will vary depending on your provider, plan, and the camp your child attends. We recommended you ask the camp and talk with your insurance provider to understand your options.



Looking for the best special needs camps near you? Check out the Beaming Health directory to find the best camps for neurodivergent kids in your area! Undivided has a great list of camps in Los Angeles for summer 2023 and can also pull together a custom research report for you if you’re outside of LA. Good luck and we hope that your family has a wonderful summer!