Eligibility and Application Process
Camp holds a multitude of physical and emotional benefits including the development of social skills, independence, self-esteem and confidence. For a child with a physical disability, improvement of these developmental traits is imperative to their growth. A summer camp experience allows a child to discover new physical capabilities while making friends, trying new activities, and navigating a world designed for their special needs.
While camp is a great experience, it is not for everyone. Campers live in a group setting with many other children/youth who also have a physical disability. The setting will be quite active and full of lots of noise and activity. Campers need to be able to successfully function in such an environment. To best determine a camper’s eligibility and appropriateness, Easter Seals staff will carefully review each camper’s application prior to acceptance. The camp’s nursing facilities are limited and by the nature of camp, are remotely located. Camp is typically NOT able to meet the needs of children/youth who require skilled nursing care. Easter Seals has the right and duty to rescind an acceptance or to send a camper home early due to health, medical or behavioural reasons.
Use this information to decide on the best camp and session for your child:
Decide which camp and program you would like your child to attend – keep in mind that transportation to and from camp is the parent/guardian’s responsibility.
During the online application process, you will be asked to select your camp sessions in order of prioritized preference. It is important to us that as many Easter Seals campers as possible have the opportunity to attend at least one session during the summer.
Easter Seals camps provide outdoor recreational experiences for children and youth. Therefore, the camper must:
- be registered with Easter Seals Ontario and be age 6 – 36 years as of July 1 of the camping year;
- be able to make choices, express their own needs, understand what is being communicated to them, follow directions, and be aware they are participating in a recreation program;
- have the physical and mental stamina to participate in a challenging outdoor program;
- be able to communicate a consistent yes and no (verbally or through the use of augmentative communication or signing) have a desire to fully participate in the daily activities of camp.
Camp has increased risk associated with it in comparison to home or school. To ensure safety, campers must:
- have no recurring history of problems with respiration, swallowing, or choking;
- have a well-established communication system, verbal or augmentative, that allows for effective peer and staff interaction;
- have a consistent ability to indicate ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – can be verbal or non-verbal as long as it is consistent (ex. Always looks up for yes, down for no);
- be able to comprehend their own needs, ask for assistance when necessary, and indicate when they are in distress;
- be able to receive assistance with physical care (i.e. feeding, changing, etc.) from more than one caregiver, including camp counsellors and program staff.
Camp is a group experience and, therefore, campers are required to:
- Not exhibit inappropriate behaviour toward themselves or others;
- Be able to actively participate in a group environment with a 1:2 ratio of staff to campers. Please note, there is no 1:1 care provided at camp.
- be able to participate in group meals in the dining hall without being disruptive to others;
- be able to sleep in a cabin with a group of campers without being disruptive to others.
Easter Seals Ontario reserves the right to deny any child/youth admission into the camp program who does not meet the criteria OR for whom it cannot be established that their needs will be safely met, AND deny admission to any camper whose medical, physical and behavioural condition upon arrival at camp is significantly different to that which was disclosed in the application form or was advised in writing, prior to camp.
Frequently Asked Questions…
Why aren’t cellphones allowed at camp and why can’t my child email me back while at camp?
Easter Seals Ontario has a strict no cellphone policy. Any cellphones brought to camp will be confiscated and returned to the camper at the end of the session. And although we encourage parents/family to email the camper while at camp through the camp administrator email address where our staff will print and handoff/read the emails to your child – we do not allow campers to respond back via email. This is because we believe that being at camp is an opportunity for your child to experience a world beyond home. This allows children to develop autonomy, independence, and a stronger sense of self. It allows them to make new friends, take responsibility for themselves and others, problem solve, and mature a bit. These things cannot be achieved when parents are only a phone call or e-mail away.
What are the cabins like?
Our cabins are large, air conditioned (if required) and fully accessible. We do not have bunk beds at camp. Bedrails are available upon request. The washrooms have large roll-in showers and there are lots of grab bars for campers who require them. Basic commode chairs and Hoyer lifts are available. There are some hospital beds available.
What activities do you have?
We offer swimming (in a heated pool), arts & crafts, pottery, archery, sports & games, music & drama, environmental studies, life skills, media arts, camp wide programs, campfires and lots more! Exclusive to Camp Merrywood are additional water activities such as sailing, kayaking, beach day, canoeing, and fishing. At Camp Woodeden, participants will be able to play sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball, rock climbing, experience the life skills kitchen and try the fully accessible high ropes course and indoor rock climbing wall.
What is the camp food like?
A catering company, specializing in summer camps, provides family-style meals served in our dining hall. Fresh fruit and vegetables, homemade soups and alternative meals are served three times a day, so campers have enough food choices that everyone finds something they like. There is even a snack before bed! Camp staff eat with the campers to provide assistance as required. We are able to accommodate some special diets such as vegan, high fibre, soft and puree diets – we do not provide Halal, Kosher, low sodium meals etc. If your child has a more specialized diet, please contact the Easter Seals Ontario Recreation Department. Easter Seals Camps are nut-aware camps and do not use any nut products in our meals. We ask that you do not send any nuts or peanut products to camp.
My child takes medication every day. Can you help with that?
There are four nurses at each camp who will administer all medications and oversee all treatments that your child requires. Upon arrival at camp, you will have the opportunity to meet the nurses and review the heath care needs of your child. Rest assured, if the nurses have any concerns about your camper, they will contact you for further advice.