Summer Camp Guide: For Kids with Special Needs

JCC of Mid-Westchester Camp Gadol

Summer Fun Club at Sociable Kidz

Mamaroneck (914) 502-3295;

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With small groups and individualized attention, kids attending the Summer Fun Club get a chance to work on social skills like starting conversations, building friendships, sharing, and taking turns—while having fun, too. Typical kids activities with a social-skills twist (compliment kickball, for instance) help build social confidence in students with speech delays, Asperger’s, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders, as well as shy kids who just need an extra push. Owner and Scarsdale kindergarten teacher Susan Hendler works with parents to customize the program so each child is working on the specific skills they need. 

Ages: Children in pre-kindergarten through grade 2; grades 3-5 can be CITs Dates: July 6 to Aug 14 (M-F, mornings 9 am-12 noon, classes 12 noon-1 pm after lunch break) Fees: $105 per class, $35 for lunch break; $525 per week Transportation: No

*quote – Mom of Natalie, 6, New Rochelle

JCC of Mid-Westchester Camp Gadol

Scarsdale (914) 472-3300;

Inclusion programs like JCC’s Camp Gadol give kids with special needs a chance to spend the summer with their peers. The camp helps children with learning disabilities, language delays, sensory issues, poor social skills, those on the upper end of the autism spectrum, and those with mild intellectual delays experience mainstream camp fun such as swimming, arts and crafts, sports, science, cooking, yoga, karate, music, and water play. Camp Gadol staff are trained in working with these special needs and, whenever necessary, can help struggling campers by modeling an activity for them, providing an alternative activity, or counseling children who need time to regroup and refocus. The camp also provides speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and/or social skills groups by contract with the child’s school district or parent.

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Ages: 2 years to entering grade four  Dates: Full summer: June 29 to Aug 14; Session I: June 29 to July 22; Session II: July 23 to Aug 14 (M-F, 9 am-4 pm) Fees: $2,955-$5,125 for the full-day, full-summer program; $1,920-$3,395 for half-day Transportation: No

NYU Summer Program for Kids at The College of New Rochelle

New Rochelle (516) 358-1811;

Building self-esteem and improving attention, organizational, and friendship skills is the goal of the NYU Summer Program for Kids, a seven-week, evidence-based, therapeutic day program for kids with ADHD. Daily activities include sports, swimming, academic review, computer-assisted learning, art, and social and coping skills training. A low staff/child ratio of 1 to 2 ensures an attentive environment for campers with special needs. 

Ages: 7 to 11 Dates: June 29 through Aug 14 (M-F, 8:15 am-4 pm) Fees: $9,900 for seven weeks (includes transportation and weekly parent training groups) Transportation: Available from centrally located pickup and drop-off points

Arc of Westchester’s Summer Enrichment at Manhattanville College

Purchase (914)

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Not all autistic teens will opt to attend college, but they can spend the summer on a college campus through Arc of Westchester’s partnership with the Duchesne Center at Manhattanville College. The summer program allows autistic campers to take classes in life skills, art, music, indoor/outdoor sports, fitness, swimming, and computers; overnight campers can also add basketball and volleyball to the schedule. To help the autistic teens get the most out of their experience, the camper/staff ratio is 3:1, and a nurse is on campus from 7 am to 11 pm. 

Ages: 17 to 21 Dates: June 29 to Aug 6 (M-F, 9 am-4 pm for day camp; waitlist-only overnight sessions)  Fees: Free, but campers must have Office for People with Developmental Disability eligibility  Transportation: No

Our Victory Day Camp

Dobbs Ferry (203) 329-3394/(914) 674-4841 (summer only);

full-day camping program is modified to meet campers’ needs in this summer program for children with learning disabilities and/or attention difficulties. The aim is to provide a structured and supportive environment that boosts self-esteem and allows children to experience the typical fun of a summer camp. That means integrating academic skills into the entire camp program—like measuring for art, keeping score in sports, and writing or reading scripts during drama. For younger campers, a strong emphasis on language and speech development helps boost peer interaction and social competency. The program is hosted at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church, and campers have access to sports fields and open space for physical activities, and also take hikes along the Old Aqueduct Trail. 

Ages: 5 to 13 Dates: June 29 to Aug 14 Fees: $4,995 for full session; no partial programs offered Transportation: Yes, for additional fee

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