For Camp Administrators:
Thank you for your interest in incorporating SummerAde within your camp program! Since 2008, SummerAde has paired high school volunteers with children with special needs at various day camps throughout Marin County. We are delighted to help camps provide an inclusive environment benefiting all their campers, staff and community. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
Beginning in Summer, 2017, we have developed Partner Camps around Marin County and will be supplying SummerAde Teen Mentors to those camps only. If your camp wishes to be considered for future Partner Camp status, please contact us to discuss.
Here’s how it works:
SummerAde Teen Mentors are generally recruited through the Community Service programs at public and private high schools in Marin County. Teen Mentors apply on-line and submit two reference contacts. SummerAde staff communicates with references and speak with applicant’s parents to assure their teen is a good fit for the program and to gain better understanding of the teen’s strengths so as to best pair them with a camper with mild disabilities.
Once a match with a special need camper has been made, all Teen Mentors are required to attend a training workshop conducted by SummerAde staff. The training covers the role and expectations of the Teen Mentor, how to effectively communicate and offer assistance to the child. Role playing different case scenarios that they may encounter as a SummerAde mentor is included.
Before the start of their specified camp week, each SummerAde Teen Mentor meets with their assigned camper and his/her family, This is an opportunity for the Mentor to familiarize themselves with the camper and learn how best to be of assistance to the child in a camp setting. In addition, the Mentor contacts the camp prior to their assigned week to introduce themselves. Most often, Teen Mentors (TMs) are asked to complete applications as if they were a counselor-in-training (CIT) or counselor. They are required to attend a modified training session at the Partner Camps as well as fill out any required waivers or background information required by the camp. We encourage all Camp Administrators to inform camp staff and counselor(s) about the SummerAde program, in advance of the SummerAde pair’s arrival.
The Teens are encouraged to ask questions and to follow up with the camper’s parents if any issues arise during the camp session. Parents of special campers will be available for their child should any problems occur during the camp session. There may be occasions when the SummerAde Teen Mentor needs the advice and support of camp staff and it is expected that the staff time for this support would not be too excessive.
SummerAde is great for all involved. It enables campers with different abilities to more fully access and enjoy a typical summer camp and allows typically developing campers to experience children with special needs as part of their larger community. Everybody wins!
Tips for Parents on Camp Selection:
When exploring possible camps for your child, keep the following in mind:
- Camp size and counselor: camper ratio
- Camp Environment: Highly structured vs. less structured
- Physical space and Accessibility
- Sensory Environment
- Avoid camps with off-site field trips
- Avoid camps in remote locations that have little to no cell phone service
- Length of Camp Day (note that some camps will accommodate a shortened camp day.)
Parents are required to speak with the camp they wish their child to attend prior to registering to describe their child’s special needs and their intent to use a SummerAde mentor. Note that some camps fill up so early registration is highly recommended!