If your child has a hearing impairment or is deaf, he may struggle in a mainstream camp environment. In a camp designed for hearing children, your child may feel left out while the others chat around a dark campfire and may even be in danger if the children are expected to hear a bell or alarm. A camp designed for and aware of deaf children may be a safer, more enjoyable option.
At a camp for deaf children, your child will find himself surrounded by other deaf children, hard-of-hearing children or children with other certain impairments. He will spend his time there among peers, instead of feeling like the odd one out. Some camps are open to children with a variety of disabilities or impairments. This is a great way to expose your child to a diverse group with certain obstacles to overcome. Other camps are for those with hearing impairments specifically. There, your child will be surrounded by those with similar struggles and joys.
Camps sometimes have their own grounds while others take advantage of YMCA or other privately owned campsites. Whether the camp is established year-round or is rented from another location, those who run the camp strive to ensure that the site is safe for deaf children. If the camp is open to a variety of disabilities, the site is accessible for wheelchairs and other equipment. Like any other camp, these facilities have first aid and nurses stations, kitchens and dorms or tents.
Camps for deaf kids give children an opportunity to be around adults who understand, and often empathize with, their struggles. Some camps have deaf adults on staff; others invite prominent and trusted deaf adults to the camp to talk with and encourage the kids.
These camps give deaf kids a safe opportunity to experience traditional camping activities, such as kayaking, hiking, swimming and survival skills. The specific activities will depend on the area of the country where the camp is located and the age of the children participating. Camps also give deaf kids the chance to practice communication skills with one another and with their leaders. Some will offer classes or activities, such as sign language lessons. If you have chosen a specific communication mode for your child and family, you may want to talk with the leaders of your local camp to ensure the camp follows the same methodology.
If you are interested in a local deaf camp, you may want to talk with your child’s teacher, speech therapist or interpreter. Local deaf centers or clubs may also have this information.