When parents make the decision to send their child to camp, they have many options. They can opt for a day or sleep-away camp, outdoor adventure camp, sports camp, theater camp, religious camp and so on … The possibilities multiply each year. If their child has a disability, they also have a choice to make when it comes to deciding whether to send their child to a “special” camp designed specifically for children with disabilities, an integrated camp that welcomes children with disabilities but groups them separately from their typically developing camp-mates, or an inclusive camp where campers of all abilities participate in all activities together.
In today’s blog post, we’ll “visit” Camp Chi, an inclusive overnight camp located in Lake Delton, Wisconsin. Camp Chi is affiliated with the JCC in Chicago, which also runs a variety of other camp programs.
For almost 20 years, Camp Chi has worked to integrate children with special needs into their camp program through its partnership with Keshet a nationally recognized provider of educational, recreational, vocational and social programs for individuals with disabilities. Yet until recently, there were limits to what they could provide.
In 2015, Camp Chi was selected as one of six camps to participate in the Ruderman/Alexander Inclusion Initiative. Thanks to the Inclusion Initiative, Camp Chi is now able to: “enroll more campers with disabilities, increase the length and variety of sessions offered, enhance staff training and focus more closely on social inclusion.”