Special Needs Summer Camps in New Jersey
Summer camp is something every child should have the opportunity to experience! We've rounded up a list of special needs summer camps in New Jersey where children can take part in a variety of traditional summer camp activities, including sports, swimming, and arts and crafts, along with therapeutic activities, social skills training, and more.
Harrington Park and Neptune Township
This comprehensive day camp for kids age 5–17 has it all: academics, therapeutic activities, sports, and recreation. Throughout the day, staff members provide encouragement and guidance in using appropriate social skills, giving children the opportunity to experience in-the-moment learning that stays with them. They also offer parent and siblings groups. The camp has two locations, in Bergen County and Monmouth County.
Truly a champion of the idea that every child needs a place to meet friends, play games, and spend time in the sun, regardless of the challenges of his or her disability, Camp Fatima provides a special place for school-aged children to sleep away for a week and enjoy an amazing experience courtesy of 24-hour, round-the-clock individualized care (aided by a team of registered nurses, lifeguards, counselors, and administrators), and a supportive, super fun atmosphere. As a non-profit organization, Camp Fatima is FREE to all campers—and parents can feel comfort and confidence in their child having a wonderful time, all under the wing of his or her own personally-appointed counselor.
The Kaplen JCC offers several camps for special needs children and teens, including Camp Haverim (ages 3 and up), Camp Tikvah (ages 5-9 and 10-13), and Tikvah Teens (ages 14-21).
Located on a scenic 15-acre site in Oakhurst, New Jersey, this sleepaway camp is for ages 8 and up (there are separate sessions for children, young adults, and adults). A basic level of communication and the ability to live in a communal setting is required. The program allows kids to enjoy all of the things other kids do at traditional summer camp—including swimming, cooking, playing baseball, telling stories around the campfire, taking trips off-camp, and acting in their own play.
This four-week day camp serves children ages 5–21 with special needs, and their siblings. Located at the ARC Family Center in Mountainside, Camp Star includes access to nearby Echo Lake Park. Activities include music, arts and crafts, adaptive physical education, swimming, nature exploration, swimming, and day trips. The new Little Tykes Camp serves children ages 2.5–5.
Canoeing is one of many activities campers can enjoy at Camp Merry Heart in Hackettstown.
Located on 123 beautiful acres, Camp Merry Heart provides a safe and supervised setting where individuals with disabilities and special needs can participate in a wide variety of recreational activities. It offers an overnight camp for ages 6 and up, and activities include swimming, canoeing, zip lining, arts and crafts, team sports, music, and more.
Harbor Haven is a comprehensive, nurturing summer day camp program in a private school setting. It provides an opportunity for children ages 3–15 with mild special needs to experience summer camp activities such as athletics, swimming, nature, performing arts, cooking, photography, computers, arts and crafts, yoga, trips, special events, entertainment, and more. It also offers social skills training, daily academics, speech and occupational therapy, reverse inclusion, and a special program for 16–18-year-olds.
Photos courtesy of the camps.
Originally published February 2011 and updated since.