Top 10 Things to Know About Choosing a Camp

February 2nd, 2017

As camp applications hit mailboxes, and families begin researching and applying for camp, The Arc of Essex County is happy to provide a top 10 list of things you need to know about applying for summer camp for your loved one with an intellectual or developmental disability:

  1. Identify a camp that best meets your child's medical, physical, and behavioral needs.  The Arc of Essex County's Camp Hope offers an accessible-friendly 7 week summer day camp for children and adults (ages 5 and up) with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  2. Consider factors including location and transportation as you narrow down your choices.  Camp Hope is located in East Hanover, New Jersey and transportation is offered to families residing within Essex County.
  3. Ensure your schedule and school district Extended School Year (ESY) dates allow for attendance.
  4. Involve your child in the decision making process by ensuring their interests and the activities offered by the camp are complimentary.  Camp Hope offers extensive recreational activities including adaptive sports, music, science, arts & crafts, and daily swimming in our zero-entry swimming pool.
  5. Funding options may be available to you.  The following list of funding providers each have their own processes and applications deadlines.  Please visit their respective websites for more information and to contact with questions:
          a.    Department of Children and Families (DCF)/PerformCare: for children ages 5-20
          b.    Division of Developmental Disabilities : for adults 21 and over.  Please contact your case
                 manager or support coordinator to apply for camp funding
          c.    School Districts:  Please contact your child study team if you'd like to leverage camp as an ESY
          d.    Scholarships Provided by the Camp:  The Arc of Essex County and Camp Hope works with
                 various organizations to help send kids to camp each summer.  You can submit a financial aid
                 form as part of your Camp Hope application.
  6. Complete your application and return all necessary information to camp administration before the application deadline.   Camps will require a complete medical history, physical paperwork, various releases, and information about your child to help the camp better provide services.
  7. As you're completing your camp application, make an appointment with your child's physician to ensure a physical is done prior to the start of the camp.  
  8. You and your camper will likely meet with the camp administration to review your application and your child's specific needs.  Come prepared by compiling a list of questions regarding the camp, staff, activities, and how they can provide your child with the best summer camp experience.
  9. Attend a camp open house with your camper.  During this time, campers can explore the grounds and facilities, meet some of the staff, and begin new friendships with other campers.  Bring a camera and take pictures of the camp to help your camper prepare for the upcoming camp season.
  10. Prepare for your first day of camp!  Pack a bag with all of the items your camper will need during the day.  Be sure to label all of their items.  Follow your camp on social media and sign up for email updates.  The Arc of Essex County's Camp Hope utilizes both of these platforms to share your child's camp experience with you.

For more information or questions about applying to The Arc of Essex County's Camp Hope, contact Laurie Best, Director of Children and Family Services at  or (973) 535-1181 ext. 1264.