Camp Abilities: Accessibility and Virtual Summer Camps
Keywords:summer camp, virtual camp, adapted sport, disability, COVID-19
Youth with disabilities are less likely to participate in community activities than their nondisabled peers (Bedell et al., 2013). For participants with physical disabilities, summer camp can increase knowledge of one’s own abilities (Aggerholm & Moltke Martiny, 2017). Camp Abilities is an international sports camp model that recognizes the ongoing challenges that people with disabilities have with respect to accessing physical activity and living active lifestyles. There are over 25 independent camp programs throughout the world with a mission of providing high quality sport, health, and physical activity programming to youth with visual impairments. In the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many camps to close their in-person sessions. In order to continue summer camp programming for the youth they serve, the staff at several Camp Abilities programs for youth with visual impairments developed a virtual service delivery model based on collaboration between physical activity and visual impairment processionals. Staff used digital platforms such as YouTube and Zoom, as well as emails, text messages, and video chats to safely create a camp experience despite the pandemic. Both camps had positive responses to the virtual model from children, parents, and staff. Leadership teams at both programs discovered methods that were successful for their participants, as well as some approaches that they would not use again.
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