Arts Express: An Adapted Creative Arts Camp in Waterloo, Ontario


  • Nicole J. Reinders Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Brianne K. Redquest Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto
  • Paula C. Fletcher Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Margaret A. Schneider Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Pamela J. Bryden Wilfrid Laurier University


Camp, children, creative arts, disabilities, performance, qualitative


Children with additional needs (CwAN) face barriers when accessing resources such as summer camps due to limited program accessibility. Full-day camps are a form of respite care for primary caregivers, while also providing a sense of independence for children. The arts are known to offer psychological benefits when explored in a creative and inclusive environment. This article describes a creative arts camp for CwAN from the perspective of two camp counselors and eight primary caregivers of CwAN. The camp details are described, from counselor training to the final performance at the end of the camp week. Caregivers felt that this camp structure allowed their CwAN to gain worth-while experiences in dance, drama, music, and visual arts. It also allowed them to feel a sense of safety and belonging by spending time with other CwAN and supportive camp counselors and volunteers. There are many strengths of this camp structure that can be applied to other camps in other settings. Program planners and community organizations should consider incorporating the creative arts into existing and developing programs.

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