Summer Camp Programs

The personal, social, and physical landscapes that summer camp experiences offer children allow them to better understand their own skills, as well as the capacities of other pupils. Additionally, the camps give the youngsters a chance to grow their independence and self-reliance apart from their family (Smart et al. 2). There is a need for inclusive summer camp programs in Canada because students there come from a variety of cultural backgrounds and have a range of abilities. The inclusive summer camp programs take into account not only the diversity of cultures but also physical and mental disability.
Canada is a leader in providing inclusive education and assisting students who have impairments. Inclusion is the hallmark of Canada’s education system. The federal government in Canada has no control over education. The provinces and territories control the education system in their jurisdiction. The special education terms such as mainstreaming and segregation were in use across Canada till the late 1980s (Kendellen et al. 37). The students with disabilities attended the regular school setting either part-time or full-time. Besides, other students living with the disability attended segregated special classes within the regular school or special schools. However, many educational authorities cannot differentiate integration with inclusive education, and they use the two terms synonymously. In inclusive education, the students attend the regular schools and are not segregate them in terms of the type or the degree of their disability.

The term inclusion was born in the late 1980s when Marsha Forest and Jack Pearpoint held a meeting in at Frontier College in Toronto, Ontario. They were concerned with the progress of education for people living with disabilities was unsatisfactory under the Special Education Model. They argued that there was insufficient progress both socially and academically. The Special Education Model lacked social justice and failed to appreciate the capabilities of students with disabilities. Marsha Forest and the other people advocating for inclusion referred the model as negatively-based since it emphasized the placement of the students with disabilities in the school system based on their degree of disability. The term inclusion was adopted at the meeting in Toronto following considerable discussions. The Canadian provinces use different terms to refer to students with disabilities. For instance, the provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick consider them as students with exceptionalities while other provinces refer to them as students with special need.

Inclusive Summer Camps for Students in Canada

The inclusive summer camps in Canada bring together non-disabled students and students living with the disabilities to share and enjoy recreational experiences. The inclusion ideology has increased the opportunities for the students living with disabilities to attend the typical summer camps. The primary objective of the summer camp programs is to provide physical literacy to the participants. In most cases, the programs are organized according to the age of the students (Smart et al. 5). For instance, programs for ages 5-7, 6-8, 7-9, 9-12 as well as additional offerings. The summer camps program can be either day camps or overnight camps. Most of the summer camps offer recreational programs such as multi-sport adventurous camp, wrestling camp, swim lesson camp, superhero training camp, rhythmic gymnastics and dance camps, outdoor Rangers camp, Olympic camp among others. Besides, the camps offer fitness and wellness programs for the adults who accompany the students to the camp. For example, ballet barre, kettlebell, boot camp, Nordic pole walking, and Pilates. The summer camps also offer additional packages to its clients such as fitness assessment and program design. Further, the summer camps offer leadership programs such as a bronze star, bronze medallion along with a bronze cross and assistant instructor (Smith & Lori, 779). The Canadian summer camps attract campers from all parts of the world every summer including the United States. Examples of camps in Canada include Ontario Summer Camps for boys, BC Summer Camps for girls, Camps in Quebec that offer sports camps for kids, Toronto Summer Camps that offer educational camps for children as well as Algonquin Park Summer Camps that provide summer art camps.

Comparison of Inclusive Summer Camps Programs for Students in Canada and USA

Canada and U.S.A are at the forefront in offering inclusive education. In the US, numerous schools offer inclusive education as compared to Canada. Most of the schools are built in such a way to accommodate the students living with disabilities. The two countries have made remarkable steps in offering inclusive summer camps for students. Every year during summer, the camps offer recreational activities and also enable the students to excel academically. Besides, the camps offer physical and fitness programs to the students. Although Canada offers the summer camps programs every year, there is a lot to be done. The USA has more summer camps which are well equipped to cater for the diverse disabilities. Besides, camping is expensive, and the lower-class people cannot afford. The various summer camps in the USA have developed strategies to enable the students living with disabilities to attend them. Such plans include camp scholarship and a sliding scale of camp fees depending on the family income.

In Canada, most summer camps offer recreational and physical fitness programs. However, in the USA, some summer camps such as ISSOS International Summer which has locations in Yale, St. Andrews and Cambridge combines creative enrichment, learning, and action-packed adventure. Besides, ISSOS allows the students to select one elective as well as one academic class to follow during their stay at the camp. Moreover, the camp offers high-quality academic summer school programs to cater for the needs of international students. Unlike most summer schools, ISSOS offer limited places to ensure that all students benefit from the small-sized classes and individual attention (Smith & Lori, 789). In Canada, the needs of children with exceptionalities are catered for since most of the camps offer programs for specific disabilities. For instance, the Ontario Camp in the Niagara region provides for students with autism spectrum disorder while the Camp Awakening in Toronto offers programs for students with physical disabilities. As opposed to the summer camps in the USA, several summer camps in Canada cater for specific disabilities although others provide for various special needs. For example, Camp Concord in Canada offers programs for students above the age of seven who have behavioral, communication and intellectual disabilities. Unlike the US, Canada has several summer camps that provide programs to students with health issues. For instance, Camp Huronda in Huntsville, Ontario offer programs for students with diabetes between the ages of 7 to 16.

Barriers to Inclusive Summer Camps Programs for Students

Although Canada has made remarkable achievements in offering inclusive summer camps programs, some factors deter the progress. The availability of summer camps to cater for disabilities is still a major concern. Although various parties advocated for the closure of segregated camp experiences, some summer camp wants their names to appear on the Integrated Camp List. For instance, about 20% of the 200 accredited camp administrators in Ontario, Canada refused their names to appear on the Inclusive Camp List. The camps lacked trained staffs and accessible facilities. The opportunities for the students to interact with their peers living with disabilities in summer camps is precarious due to legal standing, financial support as well as public acceptability (Kendellen et al. 42). However, providing separate albeit equal programs and services in the form of public services is regarded to be a discriminatory service in the US according to section 302 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The inclusion of students with disabilities in programs initially designed for non-disabled students has led to the surfacing of issues of disempowerment, loneliness, and issues of isolation. The students with disabilities lack confidants, playmates, and friends who share their unique perspectives along with their identities. Additionally, the social construction of disability is another barrier to offering inclusive summer camps programs. The basis of the social construction of disability is the social construction theory which affirms that people are responsible for the creation, learning, and sharing of meaning. The language, behaviors along with the objects people use reflect the created perceptions. The society has formed negative perceptions of people living with disabilities, and such attitudes have brought about adverse behaviors towards people with disabilities. Some people associate the inclusive summer camps with people living with exceptionalities negatively. The negative attitude prevents some non-disabled students from attending the inclusive summer camps.

Furthermore, the students with exceptionalities face discrimination while attending the summer camps. They feel demoralized and lose the enthusiasm of participating in the summer camp programs. Some instructors at the summer camps assign students with disabilities specific activities while the students without disabilities are given opportunities to choose from a broad range of activities (Kendellen et al. 44). Besides, during creative activities, some instructors place students with disabilities in separate groups and assign counselors to assist them. The exclusion hinders the creativity of such students since they are denied a chance to compete with their able-bodied counterparts. The students with disabilities are also excluded during talent shows. Some summer camps have special seating for wheelchairs at the front of the room during camp talent shows. The students may feel isolated from the rest of the world. Such discriminatory activities at the camp sites hinder the provision of inclusive services.

Ways of Making the Summer Programs More Inclusive

The summer camps should be more inclusive to promote healthy interactions between the students with exceptionalities with their able-bodied counterparts. Foremost, during learning session at the summer camps, the instructors should pair the students without disabilities with those with disabilities. For instance, during creative art sessions, the instructor can match students with disabilities with the able-bodied ones. Besides, during the camp talent shows, all campers should be allowed to sit with their friends regardless of whether they have exceptionalities (Kendellen et al. 47). The organizers should only make room for those using wheelchairs. By treating all students in the same manner, the ones with disabilities will be encouraged to compete with their able-bodied counterparts. The instructors should ensure that all activities are inclusive since a little tweak can cause differences.

During sporting activities at the summer camps, the instructor should give all students equal opportunities in selecting the games. All summer camps should create a culture of inclusion. Some steps may seem insignificant to the camp organizers, but they play a significant role in promoting inclusion. Such measures include giving nametags to the campers as well as the staff. From the onset of the camping, the staff should introduce themselves and great by names. The students will feel cared for, included and relaxed. Most importantly, treat all the campers equally and avoid favoring those with exceptionalities. Secondly, the camp organizers should switch the activities regularly to accommodate the old and the new campers. Moreover, incorporate new games into the camp and various inclusive activities. Lastly, the camp organizers should model inclusive behavior in their camps. Team building exercise can discourage staff and campers clique. Frequent icebreakers work efficiently in discouraging clique among the campers.

The leaders can play significant roles in promoting inclusion. The leaders have the power to change procedures and policies that will pave the way for the diverse abilities of students and the society as a whole. The leaders can avail resources to enable the camps to make physical changes in their facilities in order to accommodate all campers regardless of their ability. The Canadian government should also offer training services to the camping staff on inclusion. The leaders can also make powerful statements to the community to change their attitude towards people living with disabilities.


Conclusively, summer camps offer students with opportunities to try out something different and unique during the summer. The summer camps enable students to participate in a wide range and all-inclusive summer school activities and programs. Besides, the inclusive summer camps allow all students with or without disabilities to enjoy the action-packed and fun-filled course in the academic summer school programs (Smart et al. 9). Moreover, the inclusive summer camps offer various sporting activities for the students with disabilities and the non-disabled students such as fencing and sailing.

Works Cited

Kendellen, Kelsey, et al. "Facilitators and Barriers to Leadership Development at a Canadian Residential Summer Camp." Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 34.4 (2016): 36-50.

Smart, Eric, et al. "Creating an inclusive leisure space: strategies used to engage children with and without disabilities in the arts-mediated program Spiral Garden." Disability and Rehabilitation (2016): 1-9.

Smith, Corey, and Lori Wingate. "Strategies for Broadening Participation in Advanced Technological Education Programs: Practice and Perceptions." Community College Journal of Research and Practice 40.9 (2016): 779-796.

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