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Four nonprofit summer programs for children and adults with disabilities

As the school year comes to a close, many parents of children with disabilities are searching for somewhere to send their sons and daughters to have a meaningful and productive summer. There are a lot of options out there, and it can be difficult to find the right fit for your kid. With that in mind, here are four nonprofit summer camp options around Virginia. 

Make sure to bookmark this story as you start planning for summer 2023, because you won’t want to miss these four summer programs when registration opens up again. The good news is that some of the programs below are still registering for this summer! 

Camp Free2BMe

CA Human Services was founded in 1995 by a group of parents of children with autism in order to better address the struggles fellow families faced. Originally created to serve people with autism, CA Human Services has expanded to helping people with all types of developmental disabilities. An especially unique program CA has created and developed is Camp Free2BMe.

Located in Richmond, the camp provides an invaluable summer option for kids ages 13 and up with developmental disabilities. The day camp is eight weeks long, with each week focused on a specific skill that is learned through outings, art, music, themed activities, individual and group projects. If you missed out on summer registration, Camp Free2BMe also offers a winter break and spring break session. 

Photo used with permission of CA Human Services and Camp Free2BMe

Camp Easterseals UCP in VA

Camp Easterseals UCP is an overnight camp located in Craig County near Roanoke. The camp’s setting is one of its main draws, nestled among the Appalachian foothills and the trees of the George Washington National Forest, offering a rustic atmosphere with campers and counselors living in cabins along Craig Creek. Easterseals is oriented on building self-esteem and increasing independence. Campers spend time on their own away from traditional caregivers and try new and exciting activities such as horseback riding or canoeing. However, kids are not left totally alone as there is always trained staff present and available.

The camp is a place where children with disabilities can forge friendships while enjoying nature and a break from the Internet and other electronics. Many current and former campers describe their time at Easterseals as a “life changing experience.” Registration opens in January 2023.

SOAR365 at Camp Baker

SOAR365 has been helping people with disabilities and their families navigate the real-world problems that affect them every day for nearly 65 years. One of the largest and most impactful programs it operates is a summer camp at Camp Baker in Chesterfield County near Richmond. SOAR prides itself on being accommodating and understanding of every individual’s needs and offers a variety of summer camp options. It offers a day camp and overnight camp depending on camper preference and notably serve people of all ages with disabilities. SOAR gives people the opportunity to experience all of the classic summer camp activities including talent shows, kickball, arts and crafts, relay races, face painting, and more. Registration is closed for this summer but will reopen in May 2023 for the next session. 

Camp LIGHT

Camp LIGHT is located on Creative Works Farm in the Shenandoah Valley outside of Waynesboro. It believes in the necessary good that summer camps provide to people with disabilities. Because of that belief, Camp LIGHT offers enrollment at no cost to allow for any person, regardless of financial situation, to enjoy the rewarding experience. Camp LIGHT seeks to create a loving and safe environment for all campers through activities like animal management, gardening, sports, arts and crafts and much more. Some Camp LIGHT programs are still open for registration right now. 

All of these organizations share the belief that camp should be for everyone. Summer camp is where every kid can get out of the house, try new things, meet new people, forge friendships, challenge themselves and, most importantly, have a productive and meaningful summer.

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