Summer Camp Guide: Sleep-Away Camp for Kids with Special Needs

Camp Lee Mar 

Lackawaxen, PA (570) 685-7188;

Catering to campers with mild to moderate developmental challenges, Camp Lee Mar continues the work of the school year in a “play and learn” atmosphere. Programs include academics, speech and language therapy, daily living skills, and, for older campers, career and job training; each camper has his or her own individualized education plan. The camp’s unique curriculum incorporates these academic and therapeutic elements with traditional camp activities like arts, swim instruction and tons of sports, including baseball, basketball, and soccer. Outdoor pursuits like fishing and boating are also part of the experience. Lee Mar’s goal is to work on developing the whole child, while helping special needs children find comfort and friendship with children of similar age and functioning level.

Ages: 7 to 21 Dates: June 24 to Aug 11 Fees: $10,400 for the whole summer Transportation: Yes, from NYC and Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY Drive Time from White Plains: 1 hour, 50 minutes

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Dragonfly Forest Summer Camp

Phoenixville, PA (610) 298-1820;

Dragonfly Forest makes traditional summer camping experiences available to children with autism and specific medical conditions. Its goal is to provide a challenging and nurturing camp experience through which children gain a greater sense of independence, self-esteem, and self-reliance. One week is devoted to each of the following: children with autism; a genetic disorder called chromosome 22q11.2 deletion; sickle cell disease and other bleeding disorders; and persistent asthma. There is also a new skill-buildling program for teens with autism and 22q. Each week is tailored to meet the needs of each of these diverse populations, with a therapeutic program that integrates peer support and outdoor adventure with high-quality medical care, supervision, and education. A full gamut of summer fun is available—a heated pool, various sports and recreation options, ropes course, zip line, arts and crafts, a nature program, and camp-outs. 

Ages: 7 to 14  (except teen program, which is 13-20) Dates: Five one-week sessions (Session 1: Jun 27 to July 2; Session 2: July 5-10; Session 3: July 13-18; Session 4: July 21-26; Session 5: July 29 to Aug 3)  Fees: $50 deposit, opt-in sliding tuition scale starting at $100 Transportation: No Drive Time from White Plains: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Easter Seals Camp Merry Heart

Hackettstown, NJ (908) 852-3896;

Letting kids be kids—despite their special needs—is what Camp Merry Heart is all about. The camp offers a safe recreational environment for children with disabilities including autism, Asperger’s, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, and cystic fibrosis, which require minimal to moderate supervision and support with personal care. Kids can try out their skills in canoeing, archery, sports and games, arts and crafts, a climbing wall, zip line, and much more across the 120-acre facility, while parents rest easy knowing the programs are adapted to meet participants’ needs. When necessary, one-to-one assistance is available to campers.  

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Ages: 6 to 21 Dates: Six- or 12-day sessions from Aug 2 to Aug 13 Fees: $575 for three-day, $1,100 for six-day; $2,200 for 12-day Transportation: No Drive Time from White Plains: 1 hour, 25 minutes

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