Looking at Summer Camps

Paths to Literacy wants student success in the summer months too. Summertime is a perfect opportunity to create meaningful memories that carry over to all areas of development.

Questions often asked by families when the summer months approach:

  • What can we do this summer to help our child reach their goals?
  • Are there camps that are a good fit for them? 
  • How can they create relationships with their peers outside of school? 


Kids at camp unpacking

As families look towards the summer months, they want to create fun experiences that engage their children in meaningful activities.  Parents and teachers often feel the added pressure if they don't feel there is a camp that has training when working with students who have visual impairments. 


Look to See What Camps Are Already Established for Students with Visual Impairments

There are camps that are already set up for students with visual impairments. Connect with them, learn about what they offer, and ask for references from current/former students and families to ask questions. Here are two examples:


Camp Abilities

One such camp is Camp Abilities. Camp Abilities is a developmental sports camp model for children and adolescents who are blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind. The program has served more than two thousand athletes at over twenty-two locations across the United States and abroad (Canada, Costa Rica, Finland, Ireland, and Portugal).

Camp Abilities is built upon the premise that instruction in a variety of physical activities and sport experiences improves the lives of students who are blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind. Each child is assessed and activities are designed around that child. At Camp Abilities the children are exposed to highly accomplished blind and visually impaired role models.


NFB BELL® Academy

The NFB BELL Academy provides children with braille and nonvisual skills instruction through fun, hands-on learning activities.

The NFB BELL Academy—which stands for National Federation of the Blind Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning®—is a nationwide (United States and Puerto Rico) summer program that prepares children who are blind and low-vision to grow into confident and independent blind people who live the lives they want.

Activities are provided in a day program or residential setting, depending on location. In addition to braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children learn vital independent living skills, interact with blind adult mentors, and enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL Academy curriculum. Through these activities and interactions, the children learn that blindness or low vision does not define them or their future.

NFB BELL Academy picture of a young girl enjoyinig a hand made instrument with bells and a paper plate

Create Your Own Summer Camp

When you want to stay local but can't find a camp to meet your needs, why not create your own summer camp?  Whether it will be with peers from school or the neighborhood, or with students who have similar abilities, by doing this you are designing a camp around your child. Ask local community centers, churches, and schools for a space at no cost. You will be surprised how many people are happy to help if you just ask. You only need a few children to make it a camp-like experience.

Camps can be a weekly event where children with similar needs get together. It can be one or two weeks with full or half days, or you can just start by occasionally having families get together in the evening. There are so many options, and team members like a TVI, OT, PT, art/music teachers, and coaches are often more than happy to provide activity ideas and resources to make it a meaningful experience for all.

We did this at Seeing Sadie and CVI in 2019.

Children and camp teachers on steps with their self made camp t-shirts matching eachother

Adapt a Camp to Meet Your Needs

Day camps in your area are a great resource and often will adapt activities and events to meet your child's needs. This year we asked a local Nature Center if two students who are visually impaired (CVI-Cortical Vision Impairment) along with other special needs, could join the day camp. 

They said YES with no hesitation and were happy to accommodate. We will in-service staff ahead of time, have a volunteer (who happens to be a TVI) join the group for one week, and hopefully start the wheels rolling for more opportunities at this Nature Center.


Everybody Plays!

Everybody Plays! is a fun storybook written by Cindy Lou Aillaud and Lauren Lieberman that follows an elementary school-age child to a sports camp for children who have visual impairment, blindness, or deaf-blindness. Written at a 4th grade reading level, readers learn about sports and recreational physical activities that are enjoyed universally and about specific sports designed for persons with visual impairment and blindness.

The young storyteller describes how sport modifications and equipment adaptations help the campers have a blast when they learn about sports and play with new friends and coaches. Young readers learn about Paralympic sports and are encouraged to identify the Paralympic sports that the storyteller experiences while at camp.

Each sport and recreational activity has a Listen Up! page that introduces the sports novice to each sport or activity. If a reader does not need the detailed explanation of a particular activity, the print, braille, and electronic books are designed so the Listen Up! pages can be skipped.

Both the braille and large print items come with a CD. Federal Quota Eligible.

Everybody Plays book cover with people playing a variety of sports including track, swimming, and ball play

Do you have some great summer camps for students with visual impairments? Write about it and let others know your success. We also would like to hear your ideas for activities that provide fun while learning during the summer months. Contact: lisha.yochimowitz@perkins.org

Looking At Summer Camps Title with campers and two camp teachers sitting on steps