Every spring parents ask us to recommend a summer camp that would be appropriate for their son or daughter. Most parents are seeking camps that embrace neurodiversity. Every year, I tell myself I’m going to search our local area for the best camps so I have a great resource list. However, each year I can’t seem to get my act together to create a list. I often regret that I wasn’t able to provide that valuable camp list to parents.
There is a Hidden Reason: No One Summer Camp is Right for All
I tend to think that when a certain choice is made time and again, that there is a reason. Sometimes the decision is subconscious, but with a reason nonetheless. This year, I decided to reflect on why I never get that camp list pulled together.
The Ever Changing Summer Camp
One of the obvious reasons is that camps change from year to year. It’s hard to keep track of camps with ever changing staff members and thus a shift in their overall focus. Also, we can’t negate the fact that ever year, new camps crop up.
Summer Camp: One Size Does Not Fit All
However, I think the main crux of my challenge to develop a list is that I simply don’t believe that any one camp is right for ALL children.
Every time I hear about a great camp, I think, “OK, that sounds perfect for Johnny, but not at all good for Sally.”
Or “Beth would thrive at that camp but George would be so anxious that he would fall apart in that environment.”
Trying to think of good camps while these sweet and diverse faces stare me down just paralyzes me, leaving me with no list at all.
Select a Summer Camp for Your Individual Child
In my reflective mood, I came up with a solution of some sort. Parents know their child the best. Parents are innately aware of their child’s temperament, likes, dislikes, energy levels, language skills, social needs, and sensory preferences.
Perhaps parents don’t need to hear about specific camps. Rather parents may wish to learn about what kind of camp would be most advantageous for their particular child. Parents also seek to know how to manage those inevitable bumps-in-the-road that will occur throughout the camp experience.
Camps have the ability to offer kids an invaluable opportunity for social development. We just need to ensure the right fit. How do we find that just right fit?
Examine Types of Temperament
Temperament theory has been around since Hippocrates who related personality traits and behaviors to four separate bodily fluids. Although this theory has long been discredited, Carl Jung among others also developed theories about how people are “wired” differently. Most of us are familiar with the commonly-used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which is used to measure psychological preferences about how people see the world and make choices.
My colleagues and I also think of kids social needs within four distinct categories that coincide loosely with the Types of Temperament as described by Melvyn Kinder in Mastering Your Moods: How To Recognize Your Emotional Style and Make it Work For You–Without Drugs.
Over the next four weeks, we explore camp solutions for kids who present as:
- strong-willed, and
Covering each of these temperaments, we will help you identify the specific social needs and matches for each temperament. We hope this will serve as a guide on your quest to finding just the right camp for your child.