Choosing the right activities for your children requires important research. Because the experience will have significant impact on your child's life, it’s important for parents to learn to choose wisely. Here is some advice to families who are choosing a summer camp or activity for their child with hearing loss.
See a list of summer camps organized by state. If your child has a favorite camp that you’d like to add to the list, send us an email – be sure to include the camp name, location and website URL.
First Sleep Away Camp? Don’t Worry, Mom and Dad
This is a time for both you and your child to explore new things and learn how to stay in touch while you are apart. Several weeks before your child will leave for camp, start talking with him or her every few days about camp, including what fears he or she might have. Discuss together how you will handle those fears.
Educate the Camp about Hearing Loss
Ensuring that your child will have the best possible camp experience depends as much on the camp staff as it does you and your child. Provide the staff with the tools they need to understand and work with your child.
Empower Your Child
Give your child the confidence and tools to help others understand how to best communicate with him/her. The more comfortable your child is with their technology the better they will be able to ask for assistance of people outside of the household. Learn more about the importance of building self-advocacy skills.
Here are some helpful tips from experienced parents of summer campers:
"Provide the camp with a plastic box labeled with your child's name and include:
- Extra batteries, a hearing aid case and contact numbers in case they have questions or something isn't working.
- Offer to come in before camp begins to show the director and staff how to work with/insert hearing aids or CI and explain how they cannot get wet, etc.
- On first day of camp, speak to your child's counselor briefly to remind them of your child's hearing loss, box with supplies, the need to repeat directions and look at child while talking, etc.
- Also helpful is a list of “tips” for managing your child's loss – for example, get child's attention before speaking to him/her, repeat a direction when necessary, etc.
“It is important to have a responsible adult who can help manage taking on/off/storing cochlear implants, and who is willing to call me if there are any problems.”
“Explain to your child’s caregivers how much money their devices cost. That seems to get their attention.”
“Staff who have experience in working with children with hearing loss or who are at the least amenable to learning and accommodating is important.”
“(Ask if) there are staff specific for children with special needs. They don't need to be trained ‘special educators,’ but I want someone specifically who is responsible for my child’s devices, make sure they are being used, and that they will have an accepting attitude towards them.”
“It is important to have a responsible adult who can help manage taking on/off/storing cochlear implants, and who is willing to call me if there are any problems. Provide a one-page basic overview of the ‘need to know’ information about your child and his/her situation, needs and equipment.”
“Talk openly with staff about what your child will need, and meet your child’s camp counselor personally before the craziness of drop off time. I found it helpful to point out all of the things he can do like ‘typical kids’ to assuage their fears of not being able to communicate with him, etc. I made sure not to present his needs as a list of ‘demands’ that had to be met, and I made sure to thank them for their extra effort, before and afterwards!”
“Prepare your child that they may feel scared or sad but that it is important to meet others and that others may be feeling the same way. Their only job is to have fun while they are at camp. That is their job.”
Here are some questions to ask potential camp staff:
What is the camp staff's experience with hearing loss?
- Which ADA compliant devices do you use?
- What is the largest size group activity my child would participate in?
- How do your camp counselors ensure all children are participating?
- How are kids paired up for group activities?
- What individual activities do kids participate in?
- What activities do you do when it rains?
- How do you communicate with parents? What types of information will we receive about our child?
- At what point will a counselor step in to mediate heated discussions?
- What questions do you have for me?
Have a helpful tip you wish you knew when you were considering supper camps? Send us an email and share.