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TRAVEL Q&A: Special Needs Camping

By Jackie Burrell
Sunday, October 26th, 2008 at 6:35 am in Family Travel.

Baby blocks (Stock.Xchng Photos)We’ve got travel guru Donna Airoldi, from the fabulous TravelMuse site, back with us and ready to tackle another set of family quandaries. Read on for special needs camping suggestions, then check back in two weeks for the lowdown on Olympic travel and, um, pinched fingers.

Q: We have a disabled child, and we’d like to go camping. What are our best options?
- East Bay Mom

Hot type A (Stock.Xchng Photos)Donna says: As with a lot of travel advice, it doesn’t hurt to begin by asking those around you for recommendations. Check with your doctors, teachers and parents of children with similar disabilities.

If you’ll be visiting a national park, be sure to review the National Park Service Web site to see what services are offered and how accessible the parks/campsites may be. Also, NPS has a National Accessibility Achievement Award Program, and you can view the list of past winners and nominees to get a better sense of the most accessible parks.

Discover the Outdoors offers a listing of accessible camps, organizations, and products and services for special needs campers.

The American Camp Association site offers a search tool for camps that accommodate special needs participants. Located in the Santa Cruz mountains, Camping Unlimited, for example, provides recreational activities and summer camping for children and adults with developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy. The 22-year-old Camp Prime Time serves families across the Pacific Northwest. According to the camp’s Web site, 80 percent of its campers with disabilities are under age 10.

Also helpful: Barrier Free Travels, a blog by travel writer Candy Harrington, who specializes in accessible travel.

Also, TravelMuse has a Special Needs topic section. We’re in the process of expanding it, so check back in the next month or so for even more related information on this segment of travel.
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Got a family travel question or want to add your thoughts? E-mail it to us or click “comments” and add it here. Interested in the last Q&A? Click here for Donna’s advice on Oktoberfest, squeezing large families into small hotel rooms, and last minute trip ideas.

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No Responses to “TRAVEL Q&A: Special Needs Camping”

  1. Candy Harrington Says:

    Thanks for mentioning my Blog Donna!!

    I’ve seen a lot of great accessible campsites and even rustic cabins in the course of my editorial research for Emerging Horizons. One of my favorite spots is John Dillion Park in the Adirondacks — they even have accessible lean-tos! I’ve written about it a lot, but there’s a clip on my professional website that gives the basic details http://candyharrington.com/clips/pal.php.

    I’ve also found some great sites in National Parks. Here’s a link to some of my faves
    http://www.ourspecialkids.com/articles/a_parks_071406.htm

    Things are really improving these days and there’s really a lot out there. So don’t hesitate to go out and explore the possibilities.

    Candy Harrington
    Editor, Emerging Horizons

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