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Best Summer Camps Across the City for Children with Special Needs

By Janet Upadhye | March 10, 2014 7:22am | Updated on March 10, 2014 8:44am
 DNAinfo New York rounded up some of New York's best summer camps for kids with special needs.
Special Needs Summer Camps for Kids
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UPPER WEST SIDE — In New York, summer camps cater to every possible interest and need, and that includes kids with special needs.

There are several day camps in and around New York City that are specifically designed to serve children with special needs. Many provide the same activities as other more traditional summer camps — swimming, hiking and sports — yet also offer adaptive programming and extra supervision.

"Staff at our special needs camp offer activities in a way that accommodates different needs," said Alan Saltz, director of camps at the 92nd Street Y, which boasts a 4:1 camper-to-staff ratio.

According to Saltz, this means "counselors might host activities slower, or with more intention, or with more time to transition between activities."

"Basically kids are getting the support that they need that they would not get from a more mainstream setting."

DNAinfo New York's round-up of the city's best special needs summer camps include sessions that offer surfing, zip-lining and competitive board gaming.

Big Apple Day Program

Big Apple Day Program (BADP) is a social skills summer treatment camp for children with mild to moderate (non-aggressive) difficulties, such as ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, PDD-NOS, NVLD, Anxiety and learning difficulties.

Activities include swimming, social skills training, competitive board gaming, art, group problem-solving, athletic team sports and classroom-based academic sessions. On Fridays, there are field trips to the beach, the zoo, museums, and activities such as bowling.

Location: Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan at 805 Columbus Ave., Upper West Side
Ages: 5 to 12
Cost: $4,500-$9,000, depending on length of program and family income level
Dates: June 30-Aug. 8

Marvin’s Camp

This six-week day camp caters to kids with special needs, including those on the autistic spectrum. Activities include swimming, sports, arts and crafts, music, boating, dance, pioneering and special-event days. The program also includes weekly trips to amusement parks, cultural events and shows. The camper-to-staff ratio is 3:1 and the counselors are trained to work with children with special needs. The campground includes two lakes and three Olympic-size pools.

Location: JCC of Staten Island at 1466 Manor Rd., Staten Island
Ages: 6 and up
Cost: $2,475
Dates: July 7-Aug. 15

Camp Tova

Camp Tova focuses on small group settings where campers have the opportunity to make friends and work on a wide variety of creative, social and physical skills. Camp activities include swimming, sports, arts, forays into nature and trips to the beach, a small zoo, amusement parks, and bowling. Counselors “have a background in special education and are committed to providing each child with a positive and rewarding summer experience.” The camper to staff ratio is approximately 4:1.

Location: 92nd Street Y at 1395 Lexington Ave., Upper East Side
Ages: 5 to 13
Cost: $6,100
Dates: June 30-Aug. 19

The Quad Summer Program

The Quad is a camp for children who are gifted and talented in some areas but also have cognitive or social learning differences. Activities include improvisational theater, filmmaking and animation, Capoeira, photography and web development. Campers also have weekly field trips, attend classes and play outdoors. There is a 3:1 ratio of campers to staff.

Location: Spruce Street School at 12 Spruce St., Downtown Manhattan
Ages: 7 to 12
Cost: $6,695
Dates: June 30-Aug. 8

Kicking the Spectrum

Kicking the Spectrum is a martial-arts-inspired program that organizers say is "developed to teach and inspire students with special needs to combine fitness and wellness for life.” The summer camp includes karate, soccer, yoga, music and arts and crafts.

Location: The McCarton Center at 350 E 82nd St., Upper East Side
Ages: 3 and older
Price: $470 a week for morning or afternoon sessions; $930 a week for full-day program
Dates: June 30-July 3; Aug. 18-22

Surfers Healing One-Day Surf Camps

Surfers Healing teaches children with autism how to surf. The camp was founded by pro-surfer Israel Paskowitz after he found that his autistic son’s Isaiah's sensory issues were soothed by being in the water. The one-day camp is free of charge.

Location and dates: Sept. 10 at Lido Beach, N.Y.; Sept. 12 at Montauk, N.Y.
Cost: Free