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Accessible Camps for Children with Disabilities in Canada

Many Canadians have fond memories of summer camps. Not only are summer camps fun for kids, but they also provide the chance to develop skills and forge lasting friendships. Now, imagine a child can’t attend summer camp because they have a disability. They miss out on all the life-changing experiences. Similarly, they miss out on the happy memories that last a lifetime. The good news is that there are accessible camps for children with disabilities throughout Canada!

In this article, we discuss some accessible camps for children with disabilities, such as:

  • The Salvation Army Autism Spectrum Disorder Day Camp (ON)
  • Easter Seals Woodeden (ON)
  • The Starlight Performance Camp (AB)
  • Zajac Ranch for Children (BC)

Despite our list, we encourage you to find a camp that’s right for your child.

Accessible Camps for Children with Disabilities

Salvation Army

To begin with, The Salvation Army in London, Ontario, runs a day camp for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This day camp is unique and has many features, such as:

  • Weekly programming built for the kids attending that week
  • A low ratio of staff to kids that allows for individualized activities to take place concurrently

Furthermore, camp staff:

  • Are trained in ASD support
  • Know how to help campers with ASD have a great time
  • Have the skills to ensure that campers do not get overwhelmed
  • Plan activities that will not trigger responses among the campers
  • Create special outings based on each camper’s interest
  • Aim to complete activities in the community to promote inclusion

In addition, the Salvation Army also offers respite services throughout the year.

Easter Seals Woodeden

Is sleepaway camp more your speed? Easter Seals Woodeden has an amazing accessible sleepaway camp on the outskirts of London, Ontario. As a matter of fact, this camp is fully accessible. At this camp, campers of all abilities can partake in activities, such as:

  • Archery
  • High Ropes Course (the ONLY accessible one of its kind in North America!)
  • Overnight camping in yurts
  • Indoor climbing wall
  • Sledge Hockey
  • Sports (such as wheelchair basketball, badminton, lacrosse)
  • Swimming
  • Arts and crafts
  • Campfires
  • Dances
  • Media Arts
  • Music and drama

With so many accessible activities, this camp will especially put a smile on any kid’s face.

Starlight Performance Camp

Edmonton, Alberta is home to the Starlight Performance Camp. The University of Alberta’s Medical and Dental faculty runs the camp, which accommodates all children with medically fragile statuses and disabilities.

There are many activities, such as:

  • Gymnastics
  • Dance (ending in a routine performed for parents)
  • Cheerleading
  • Crafts

Each activity is accessible. Additionally, the camp is designed for kids who might not otherwise have a chance to partake in such activities. Cofounder Andree Vincent says that many of the kids who attend struggle to keep up with activities and other kids. So, he caters the camp’s activities to them. Furthermore, Vincent says that the goal of the camp is to help kids gain confidence and character.

Zajac Ranch for Children

Lastly, the Zajac Ranch for Children is in British Columbia and it is a specialty camp. Specifically, this camp only hosts kids with disabilities. It is set on 41 acres of wilderness. The camp has personal support worker (PSW) services, such as:

  • 1 on 1 PSW support for a limited number of campers
  • 3 to 1 PSW support for other campers
  • PSWs that meet British Columbia’s CRC guidelines

The camp specializes in accommodating many different disabilities. It has many programs, such as:

  • Mixed medical camps, that accommodate various medical problems
  • CNIB camp for blind or partially sighted children
  • Down syndrome, epilepsy, and muscular dystrophy camps
  • Autism spectrum disorder camp

Furthermore, Zajac Ranch’s goal is to provide camp experiences that empower kids of all abilities. Specifically, there are many activities for campers, such as:

  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Archery
  • High ropes course
  • Low ropes team building course
  • Wilderness survival skills
  • Gold panning 

Find the Right Accessible Camp

So, when it comes to accessible camps for children with disabilities, the right fit is key. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Schedule a visit to the camp before committing. Happy camping!