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Does your son have asthma or ADHD? There’s a camp for that!
Do you have a child who doesn’t live with his siblings or has a different ethnic background than you? There’s a camp for that, too!
Is your family Quaker? Yep, there’s even a camp for you (however, you’ll have to go to New England if you want to go there).
Where to Start
With such a wide variety of summer camps, where do you start and how do you find the one that’s right for your child? Families agree on two things when it comes to finding a camp:
- You hear about most camps through your friends and your children’s friends.
- It’s a matter of luck — an email here or an ad in the paper there.
There are, however, also some great tools to help you find the right camp.
- Wisconline is a great place to look for resources within Wisconsin. http://wisconline.com/attractions/camps/index.html
- The YMCA has an extensive network of overnight camps and day camps. Their national site has a database that allows you to find camps within several miles of a zip code you enter. www.ymca.net
- Can’t find that Quaker camp in Wisconsin? Try going to KidsCamp.com for resources in all 50 states. It even offers some overseas resources, as well. www.kidscamps.com
- Another national database is the American Camp Accreditation, which is the agency that has up to 300 standards by which they certify a camp. http://find.acacamps.org
Who Else Can You Contact?
Call us at the Coalition at (800) 762-8063. While we do not endorse any particular camp or service, our job is to help you find the resources you need to be a successful family. We often hear about successful camp experiences that we’re happy to pass along.
Similarly, Wisconsin’s Post Adoption Resource Centers (PARCs) are also happy to help you. Find the PARC near you on our website, www.postadoptccyf.org.
Your local county human services department often knows about camps in its area or unique opportunities like the Youth POWER Academy of Finance, where students meet for four hours for two weeks to gain important financial skills. (assetbuilders.org
) This was passed along to some foster and adoptive parents through a human services social worker.
The “Wisconsin Idea” is a philosophy from 1904 that holds that the many benefits of the UW System should apply to all citizens of Wisconsin. Thus, Wisconsin offers enrichment opportunities for people of all ages and background. The Precollege Programs offer a wide range of programs for school-age kids. See the directory at precollege.wlearn.com
The UW system also has many camps that offer academics, arts, and sports. You may have to search each particular campus to find a camp that meets your needs. www.wisconsin.edu/campuses/#campuswebsites
Some Camp Recommendations
While there are far too many camps to list individually, the following are some that families and workers have recommended.
- Badger Camp, Prairie du Chien: Serves people with developmental disabilities by providing outdoor recreational experiences. www.badgercamp.org
- Bethel Horizons, Dodgeville: One of the missions of Horizons is to provide nature experiences to city kids and other who might not get an opportunity to spend time outdoors. Offers many scholarships. www.bethelhorizons.org
- Camp Manitowish YMCA, Boulder Junction: The camp mission is for participants to grow in four aspects of their lives—wisdom, stature, favor with God, and favor with one another. Offers many scholarships. www.manito-wish.org
- Camp To Belong is dedicated to reuniting siblings placed in separate foster homes and other out-of-home care for events of fun, emotional empowerment and sibling connection. www.ctb-wi.org
- ComedySportz Milwaukee (day camp): Kids learn how to play improve games, become more confident and learn to be a member of a team. Kids will learn great games applicable to situations in school, on the playground, and in everyday life. http://www.cszmke.com/kids-summer-camp/
- Easter Seals, Wisconsin Dells: For 70 years, Easter Seals has been providing memories that last a lifetime for children and adults with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Also includes camps for people with asthma and Asperger's, and a day camp for kids ages six-14 to help them understand people with disabilities. camp.eastersealswisconsin.com/
- UMOJA: A Black Heritage Experience, Green Lake: UMOJA is created for families who have adopted or are fostering African American children or children from the African continent and the diasporas. It provides an opportunity for children ages three to 18 and their families to celebrate the rich traditions of Black identities and culture in the U.S. umojabhe.org
The Benefits of Camps
In addition to the opportunities for kids to learn new skills and challenge themselves, have a break from their families, and make new friends, camps also have the potential to effect a child for a lifetime.
“I didn’t always have the happiest of childhoods, but going to summer camp was always a highlight for me,” says Dustin Bronsdon, who was adopted from the foster care system as a teenager.