With the summer holidays rapidly approaching, I think it’s safe to say that every SEND parent has that uneasy murmuring of trepidation growing in their hearts.
But following my post highlighting Things to do during the summer holidays, I felt inspired to elaborate our repertoire of stuff to fill the time. My next target – Summer holiday camps!
We need as much ammunition as possible, right?!
There are so many millions of summer camps out there these days but in my experience not ONE in my area suits Jude. How sad is that? They aren’t appropriate for various reasons:
- The pace of activities.
- The exclusion during sports games because everyone wants to win.
- The lack of experience and maturity of many of the summer camp staff.
- The inability to supply one person just to look after Jude during the day because of ratios.
- The craziness of the environment.
- The lack of interest Jude has in any of the things they are offering as entertainment.
I find it really sad because all other children Jude’s age are out making friends at camp, learning new skills and building on their independence. Why should Jude miss out, yet again?
I’ve done a bit of research and found some fantastic sounding holiday camps that are purely for or at least very well suited to children with special needs. One’s that even Jude could engage within, if we ever thought he’d want to give it a go. They aren’t local to me but hopefully one will be near someone reading this!
“Established in 1981, the Trust began by running a one week summer holiday for children with special needs. The Trust now provides holidays for over 120 children with disabilities and special needs aged 4-16 each year, in various locations around the United Kingdom.”
This place sounds fantastic!!! They offer holidays to children who wouldn’t ordinarily receive one so I guess they are quite selective with who attends. And rightly so, it’s a charity and the cost of running these holidays must be enormous.
The UK based holidays are typically around a week long and involve activities to suit everyone’s needs and enjoyments. They go to theme parks, the cinema, swimming, to music shows plus so much more. The holidays also include quieter environments with lots of sensory play, arts and crafts.
Newman Trust holidays are run by volunteers (amazing people!) but with holiday organisers at the helm. And most importantly to me, each child has their own volunteer carer for the duration plus additional carers to help out around them. This place sounds like a dream so if you either want to support their work or consider applying for your child then hit the link above.
“The camp is held at The Barnstondale Activity Centre, a specialist holiday centre in the heart of Wirral, in a rural location, and we cater for up to 30 children each year. The charity needs to raise some £30,000 to run the camp, which is then free of charge to all children.”
Another great charity with the holiday theme at its core. Heswall include fantastic activities during the week such as zoo visits, trips to the seaside and nearby theme parks. They also hold a sports day and a drama evening which is based at a local theatre group.
Similarly to the Newman Trust, Heswall Camp is run by helpers, from all walks of life such as teachers and medical students, with the aim of one supporter for each child. I guess this is based need.
You just know these people will make the holiday super special, wanting to use their time for such great work.
Not technically just a summer camp however it seems borderline impossible to find an extensive list of purely holiday camps. BUT you can still attend Woodland Adventures, in the midlands, during the holidays where they offer residential and non-residential experiences for organised groups of youngsters (such as schools, etc.)
They don’t work solely with special needs children but I wanted to mention it because of it’s dedication to inclusion.
This place sounds truly awesome. In their own words…
“We work with many charitable organisations to provide tailored visits to Woodlands Adventure. We liaise with group leaders about additional requirements of the group, ensuring that the appropriate disabled friendly equipment, staff numbers and skill levels of our staff are all in place on the day. There is no barrier to the use of any of our facilities.”
Woodlands Adventures pride themselves in teaching life skills such as problem solving, communication and teamwork which giving children new outdoorsy experiences.
“Here at Unique Kidz and Co, we pride ourselves on providing a service that families can trust. Our centre offers a safe and welcoming environment which is equipped and staffed to provide the best possible social and play experience for your child.”
Unique Kidz and Co offer holiday camps for children aged 5 to 19. They fill the week with so much fun, including activities such as cooking, gardening, photography, day trips and creative play. They have therapy bikes (Jude would love this!) sensory as well as outdoor play areas. Set up by two mums of special needs children who struggled to find adequate and fulfilling childcare for their own families. The charity has evolved over the last nine years but retains it’s original aim to help “advance the social and play opportunities of children and young people with additional needs and disabilities and to include their siblings.”
“We tailor the activities to suit the children every day. We are well supported by local groups and organisations and in addition to the messy play, craft and cookery, music and dancing, story telling and trips to the local shop, we have visits from local farms, donkey rides, pony and cart rides, entertainers, theatre groups, fire engines and a musical thearpist…”
Suggested by a friend of mine (thank you!) this place sounds fantastic! It opens for nine days during the summer holidays and four at Easter time. Based in Hampshire, they invite children aged 3 – 11 to come and play without discrimination or fear that they will be left out. The website is beautiful, I recommend anyone to have a wee looky.
This post took me absolutely ages to write. I’m not entirely happy with the contents but this is largely because it was so so hard to find any organisations to include. I can understand why there are so few special needs summer camps. The cost, the training, the amount of staff you’d need and the limited funds consistently associated with special needs parents. Charities pick up most of the slack however, they too need funds. I don’t know. It seems like something that could be amazing to offer however, I appreciate the difficulties. There is one special needs summer camp local to me but as I wasn’t particularly impressed with it, I’m loathed to even suggest their name. I’d love to hear your experiences.
Are there some fab opportunities near you?