It is that time of year, again. Mardi Gras is over, the Lenten season has begun, we are preparing to put away the winter clothes, and we are excited to don our fresh pedicures and maxi dresses…spring is almost here! So you know what that means: it’s time to think about SUMMER CAMP. Yes, you read correctly. I said, “SUMMER CAMP.”
Right now is the time to preview all the summer camps available in your area and decide which is best for your children/teens. Many camps are having registration now, or very soon, and most are on a first-come, first-served basis. This makes it very important to know what camps are available, and even more importantly, which camp(s) would best fit the needs of your family.
Perhaps you already started this process after reading Megan’s Ultimate Guide to Summer Camps in New Orleans in February that gave us an extensive list of summer camps in the NOLA area. (By the way, if you haven’t looked at this guide yet, I highly encourage it!) You may have already found the best place for your campers and already started the registration process or marked the registration date on your calendar. However, maybe you didn’t find the kind of camp you were looking for on that list. Your child/teen may have a disability and/or a medical condition, and you would like to send your camper to participate in a program that caters more to his or her unique needs. I am happy to say that Louisiana, and, more specifically, the NOLA area, have many summer camps that may be just what you have been hoping to find.
Camp Summer Tribe is a seven-day residential camp for children with cerebral palsy and other similar conditions held in Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, LA. This camp annually serves about 50 Louisiana campers ages 6-20 years old. The camp provides the campers a traditional summer camp experience, and the parents of these campers a chance for a much needed vacation or time for the other children in the family. Application deadline is April 1st each year, and the medical examination form must be returned no later than May 1st. For more information, email [email protected] or call (504) 228-3995.
SKIP Family Camp provides children and their families an opportunity to meet other families and share information, resources, experiences, and feelings. In addition, the camp is an opportunity for a fun family vacation. SKIP children include children who are assisted at least part of each day on mechanical ventilation, children who require prolonged intravenous administration of nutritional substances or medication, and/or children who have a daily dependence on devices for respiratory or nutritional support, such as tracheotomy tube care, oxygen support, or tube feeding. There is NO COST to participate in this camp. The cost of the camp, including room, meals, outings, and transportation is covered by SKIP of Louisiana, which is supported by grants, donations, and volunteer efforts. For more information, please contact Judy Abney at (985) 649-0882.
Krewe de Camp is an overnight camp held at Camp Abbey in Covington, LA for children with cerebral palsy or other developmental disabilities. The camp offers a traditional camp experience, including arts-and-crafts, outdoor games, and swimming. Campers participate in fun night activities, such as a costume dance, a talent show, an outdoor fair, and live music concerts. Ages 6 years – graduating high school senior. There is NO COST to participate this camp. Camp will be May 24-30th, this year. For more information, call (504) 722-2765.
Louisiana Academy of Performing Arts provides all campers (beginning, intermediate, and advanced) with the opportunity to explore up to five instrumental, theory, and vocal programs. Campers(with little or no musical background) are able to receive initial training and see what program(s) interest them. This camp also provides experienced students with a week of concentrated study to accelerate proficiency and to generate motivation to learn new and improved methods of study, giving new life to the student’s instrument or vocal study. 25 students are admitted per week. Accommodations are provided for children with disabilities (including Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Autism, developmental disabilities, and Down’s Syndrome). Ages 5-17/$250 per week. For more information please contact the Covington School of Music at (985) 590-4545 or the Mandeville School of Music at (985) 674-2992.
Camp Sunshine, one of the Jefferson Parish Recreation Department’s inclusive summer camps, is a 4-week camp for children and teens with special needs. Activities range from field trips, swimming, and indoor/outdoor games to music and art. Camp is limited to 15 campers per session. Camp hours are 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Ages 8-15 /$300 per session. For more information, please email [email protected] or call (504) 349-5000.
Camp Moonbeam, another One of the Jefferson Parish Recreation Department’s inclusive summer camps, is a 4-week camp for teens and adults with special needs. Activities consist of field trips, swimming, indoor and outdoor games, music, and art. Camp is limited to 15 campers per session. Camp hours are 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Ages 14 and older/$300 per session. For more information, please email [email protected] or call (504) 349-5000.
Integrative Touch Pediatric Occupational Therapy is a privately owned business on the west bank provides summer opportunities for children and teens, including a multi-sensory summer camp and writing camp. Ages 4-14/Price varies. For more information, please contact: Tammi Lavin, LOTR, owner at (504) 341-7300 or (504) 417-0281.
Jefferson Parish Rainbow and Butterfly Summer Camps offers recreational activities to children with developmental disabilities. The goals are to improve or maintain physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functions and promote healthy, independent leisure lifestyles. Rainbow Camp-Ages 5-14/$350 per session. Butterfly Camp-Ages 15-21/$300 per session. For more information, please contact Peggie Massaro at (504) 736-6999 ext. 114
S.T.A.R.S. is a unique 6-week summer camp program to provide an outlet for fun and creative play. Camp activities include swimming, arts and crafts, cooking, technology training, fun with music, and much more. Campers are paired with sighted student volunteers who are specially trained to assist them in all activities. Any child who has a visual impairment and is between the ages of 6 and 13 is welcome to join. The S.T.A.R.S. program also offers recreational activities on the first Saturday of each month during the regular school term. S.T.A.R.S. activities include bowling, horseback riding, sculpture classes, nature trips, special movie showings, and holiday crafts. Ages 6-13/NO COST. For more information, please contact Calvin Lee at (504) 899-4501.
CHOICE camp’s goal is to assist teens in healthy life choices as they transition to adulthood through career exploration, skill development, self-awareness, team-building, social skills, technology training, and goal-planning. Any person with a visual impairment between the ages of 14 and 20 is welcome to join. The CHOICE program also offers career developmental activities on the third Saturday of each month. Ages 14-20/NO COST. For more information, please contact Calvin Lee at (504) 899-4501.
Louisiana Academy of Performing Arts Summer Camps, located in River Ridge on the south shore, this camp provides all campers (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) with the opportunity to explore up to five of our instrumental, theory, and vocal programs. Campers (with little or no musical background) are able to receive initial training and see what program(s) interest them. Our camps can also provide experienced students with a week of concentrated study to accelerate proficiency and to generate motivation to learn new and improved methods of study, giving new life to the student’s instrument or vocal study. 25 students are admitted per week. Accommodations are provided for children with disabilities (including Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Autism, developmental disabilities, and Down’s Syndrome). Ages 5-16/$250 per week, plus $15.00 registration fee. For more information, please contact River Ridge School of Music and Dance at (504) 738-3050.
Speech-N-Motion Camp is an enrichment program designed to create a fun environment in which children will be motivated to interact and socialize with others. Pediatric occupational and speech therapists facilitate social interaction through sensory motor play, role playing, and language-based activities. Social communication skills are embedded in play, art, music, and games. Siblings and peers are welcome. Ages 3-10/$65 per day. For more information, please contact Kimberly Pizzo at the Crane Rehab Center at (504) 828-7696.
The Creative Learning Center of Louisiana Summer Camp is for campers who have a primary diagnosis of Autism. Activities include a social integration group, music, academics, bowling, swimming, and field trips. Ages 4-21/$350 per session, plus $50 registration fee. For more information, please email Sheila Ealey or call (504) 975-7961.
Write from the Start summer camp is a multi-sensory handwriting program. The curriculum includes using music, art, games, and manipulatives to build foundational hand skills. All classes are fun and provide functional opportunities for writing practice. This camp accommodates children with a variety of disabilities, including Autism, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, Asperger’s, fine and gross motor delays, and sensory disorders. Ages 3-10/$200 per session. For more information, please contact Kimberly Pizzo at the Crane Rehab Center at (504) 828-7696.
St. Charles Parish
Inclusive Day Camp is part of the St. Charles Parish Parks and Recreation program and provides children with 6 weeks of educational and leisure activities, including arts and crafts, games, field trips, and water days. Ages 5-12 years/$250 for 6 weeks. For more information, please call (985) 331-3010 or (985) 331-3007.
Camp Shriver, Special Olympics Camp is also a part of the St. Charles Parish Parks and Recreation program which is a 3-day Special Olympics Camp offering sports activities including, bocce, tennis, soccer, and flag football. Ages 5-12/NO COST. For more information, please email or call (985) 783-5090.
Much of this information was taken from the Children’s Hospital Recreation Resource Guide, and I highly encourage you to read it. There is a guide to help you select the right camp for your family, as well as information for many camps throughout the entire state of Louisiana for children/teens with disabilities and medical conditions. The list of camps in this post is by no means a comprehensive list, but only a place to start. Please feel free to leave a comment below if there is a NOLA area camp I have left out, or if you have information about any of the camps you feel will be beneficial to parents reading this post who are trying to find the best program for their campers.
Do you know of any other camps for children/teens with disabilities in the NOLA area? Have your children/teens been to one of these camps? Do you have information about any of these camps that would be beneficial to other parents?