1. How do I sign up my child for MDA summer camp?
Youngsters ages 6 to 17 who are affected by any of the more than 40 neuromuscular diseases in MDA's program and who are registered with MDA are eligible to apply to attend MDA summer camp. There is no fee to attend camp, and all camp costs are covered by MDA. Acceptance to camp is contingent upon evaluation of your child’s application by MDA staff and MDA's medical advisers, including the camp health staff and clinic team. Because space at some camps may be limited, applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis and all application deadlines must be met. To learn more about how your child can attend MDA summer camp, contact your local MDA office.
2. Who will take care of my child’s medical needs during the camp week?
MDA camps are staffed by medical teams that can include physicians, nurses, and respiratory or physical therapists. The camp medical team will review your child’s medical needs prior to camp and meet with you to discuss your child’s needs on the first day of camp. During the camp week, the medical team dispenses medications, takes care of injured or ill campers, provides first aid, and monitors the overall health of all camp participants.
3. What kinds of activities will my child participate in at camp, and how do I know my child will be safe?
MDA camp is a magical place offering a wide range of activities specially designed for youngsters who have neuromuscular disease and the related mobility challenges. At MDA camp, barriers simply don’t exist and a child with a disability can just be a child among friends. Although each camp is unique, some common activities include: swimming; adaptive sports such as hockey, baseball, soccer and football; boating; horseback riding; fishing; music; arts and crafts; dances; talent shows; Harley-Davidson motorcycle sidecar rides; visits from fire fighters; and much more. Adaptations are made so that children of all abilities can participate in every MDA summer camp activity.
Camp activities happen in an environment that promotes self-exploration, interaction with peers, making new friends, and engaging in an exciting and safe summer camp experience with age-appropriate boundaries and supervision. Safety is MDA’s first priority. Camp staff and volunteers receive training about the special needs of children with neuromuscular diseases. All activities are closely monitored, overseen by qualified personnel, and designed to accommodate campers' individual needs and abilities.
4. What is the camper-to-counselor ratio? How are volunteer counselors selected for camp? What duties do they perform?
Whether it’s in Alabama or Alaska, MDA summer camp promises a week of fun, friendship and freedom for kids affected by neuromuscular diseases. But campers are guaranteed to find something else at every MDA camp — a team of tireless volunteers who are the key to making a memorable, safe and fun week for youngsters with neuromuscular disease.
At MDA camps, volunteer counselors work one-on-one with campers around the clock, providing the care, close supervision and attention that children with neuromuscular diseases need. Counselors push wheelchairs, lift and transfer youngsters, and even “bunk” down near their campers. But above all, they become the camper’s friend for a week, and sometimes a lifetime.
Volunteers must be at least 16 years old and of sufficient strength and size to lift and care for campers and assist with campers’ personal care needs. Campers’ parents may not be their volunteer counselors, but siblings and other family members are welcome to apply to serve in this important role during camp.
Parents can be assured that camp volunteers are thoroughly screened in a process that includes: a formal application, criminal background check, health and reference checks, and a personal interview with MDA staff. MDA follows all state mandates for volunteers who work with children. Volunteers receive training in the special needs of children with neuromuscular diseases.
5. What if a camper wants to come home midweek?
Sometimes children are reluctant to attend camp, due to fear of homesickness, having a new individual provide their personal care, being a first-time camper or other reasons. For those campers who experience homesickness, in most cases it quickly passes as the camper becomes busy with activities and making new camp friends. However, sometimes homesickness does not pass or a child may not be ready to attend a full week of overnight summer camp.
While campers should come to camp with the intention of spending the entire week, should your child experience any of these situations, please be assured that MDA and camp medical staff will contact you from camp and provide you with the most up-to-date information on your child’s medical, emotional or behavioral needs. Together, we’ll discuss a plan on how to best respond to the situation at hand.
6. May my child and I visit the camp first to see if we like it?
Prospective campers and their parents are welcome to make a day visit to their local MDA camp to see if they would like to apply for the following year's session. If you and your child would like to visit camp before making a decision about next year’s camp session, please contact your local MDA office.
7. How can I encourage my reluctant child to attend camp?
Children with and without disabilities often are nervous about going to sleep-away camp for the first time. They may need a little parental encouragement to take that first step, which may include:
8. Is transportation provided to MDA summer camp?
MDA does not provide transportation to summer camp. However, if transportation is a problem for your family, we’ll make every effort to help your child get to camp and explore all possible solutions to assist your family.