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December 05, 2021

Where Every Family Matters

2019 Summer Camps for Special Needs Kids

Kids at Bill Rice Ranch's Deaf Camp participate in all kinds of activities including horseback riding. See a complete list of special needs camps for kids this summer.

All kinds of fun experiences make up camps for kids with special needs — many of which are registering now for this coming summer. Check out our listing and make plans for your child.

Camp Ability
615-809-2632 •
Special Kids Therapy and Nursing Center offers Camp Ability to children with special needs ages 6 – 25. The seven-week camp takes place in June and July in Murfreesboro. Camp Ability allows campers to participate in interactive, social and fun environments. Camp counselors focus on each child’s abilities, finding ways for everyone to participate in activities. Registration — which launched Feb. 18, 2019 — is first-come, first-serve and the camp fills quickly. Currently, pre-online registration is only available for returning campers. New camper pre-online registration will open up March 25, 2019, space permitting. One-week sessions are $125. Additional fees: $15 for weekly early care; $30 for weekly extended care. Scholarships are available.

Camp Conquest
901-490-7164 •
This Christ-centered, week-long, overnight camp is for children ages 6 – 16 with developmental disabilities including autism, PDD, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and others. An additional camp is available for ages 17 and older. Located in Cordova, participating children come from numerous southern states to experience making new friends, horseback riding, canoeing, rock climbing and more. Volunteer opportunities are available for typical kids, ages 13 – 16 interested in junior counseling. Two different camp sessions are available: Session 1 (ages 6 – 17) is May 27 – June 1. Session 2 (ages 18 – 65) is June 3 – 8. Cost is $675.

Camp Discovery
615-504-1727 (Chester Lowe) or email •
Tennessee Jaycees provides this residential camp to ages 7 and older with mental and physical challenges. This six-day camp in Gainesboro features hiking, music, games, sports, swimming, campfires and more. Seven different one-week sessions are available: June 2 – 7; June 9 – 14; June 23 – 28; June 30 – July 5; July 7 – 12 (for ages 21 and under); July 14 – 19 and July 21 – 26. An Open House is scheduled for April 27 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Cost per camper is $495 a week.

Camp Hope
615-349-5645 (Rebekah Lemley or Meg Logan) •
This non-profit organization through Vanderbilt Burn Center provides a free week of physical and emotional healing for children ages 6 – 16 with burn injuries. The residential camp takes place July 17 – 20 at William P. Ridley 4-H Center in Columbia. Applications are available now at the website.

Camp Jump Start, Camp Rise and Sign & Camp Sign Me Up
615-248-8828 •
The youth programs at Bridges serves deaf and hard of hearing kids from kindergarten through high school. Applications are now available for summer camps. Camp Rise and Sign (May 10 – 12) is held at Hillmont Camp providing deaf and hard of hearing children and siblings a weekend of games, camping and memory-building fun. Camp Sign Me Up is available in six different sessions and is designed to teach hearing students American Sign Language. Dates are June 3 – 7 ("Intensive," ages 13 – 17); June 10 – 14 ("Newbies," ages 6 – 12); and four sessions, June 17 – 21; June 24 – 28; July 8 – 12; and July 15 – 19 for kids ages 6 – 12 who are beginners, intermediate or advanced. Cost is $85 a week; $40 additional for aftercare.

Camp Kesem
253-736-3821 •
Camp Kesem operates free summer camp for children who have been impacted by a parent's cancer. Lead by college students from Vanderbilt University, this year, summer camp takes place July 21 – 27 at Camp Sumatanga in Gallant, Alabama. Camp fills up quickly, but Camp Kesem says DO place your child on the wait list as they may be accommodated.

Camp Sugar Falls
615-298-3066, ext. 3339 (Melissa Wilson) •
A diabetes day camp for ages 6 – 12 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The camp takes place June 17 – 21 at YMCA Camp Widjiwagan and provides campers with a place to play, laugh, share and learn about diabetes management. The camp is already full, but applications are accepted for the wait list.

615-936-5016 •
Vanderbilt’s Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences offers a one-week day camp (June 3 – 7) for children ages 8 – 18 who stutter. The goal is to help kids become more confident communicators with the help of speech and language specialists. The camp is held at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center in Nashville. Space is limited. Cost is $500.

Deaf Camp
800-253-RICE x125 •
Bill Rice Ranch is a revival ministry in Murfreesboro that offers Deaf Camp for deaf children ages 9 – 19 with one week free. The camp is offered in five different five-day sessions: June 10 – 14; June 24 – 28; July 8 – 12; and July 15 – 19 and featuring trail rides, gospel messages in sign language, sport competitions, swimming and more. The ranch is located in Murfreesboro.

Day Camp Program at Empower Me Center
615-453-0005 •
Located in Lebanon, this camp’s for ages 5 – 21 with mild to moderate physical, developmental or mental disabilities and takes place across three weeks in June and July. Offerings include sports, music and drama, arts and crafts, water games, nature and outdoor adventures, and more. Teachers and trained staff members help campers have a fun and controlled camp experience. The Empower Me Center aims to build a new state-of-the-art facility to serve the growing need for special needs family activities. Visit the website or the Empower Me Center on Facebook.

Easter Seals Camp
615-292-6640 •
Youth summer day and resident camps held at YMCA Camp Widjiwagan for children with disabilities ages 7 – 16. With a 1:3 camper-to-counselor ratio, kids enjoy canoeing, archery, ropes activities, nature activities, sports, swimming and more. Easter Seals campers join regular Camp Widjiwagan campers to have the same camp experiences. There are nine five-day sessions to choose from beginning May 27. Registration is now open. Day camp is $345 a week; 1 to 1 care is an additional $200 per week.

Summer at Currey Ingram
615-777-4819 (Eric Vinson) • https;//
Currey Ingram Academy offers an ADHD Summer Treatment camp with two different three-week sessions available: June 10 – 28 and July 8 – 26. Designed for kids ages 8 – 12, each day includes play and games, social skills, academics and more. The cost is $4,000 plus a $400 deposit due upon acceptance.

Zooper Heroes Camp
615-833-1534, ext. 160 •
The Nashville Zoo offers a summer camp, Zooper Heroes Camp, for children with special needs ages 7 – 11. This day camp takes place July 1 – 3 plus July 5 at the zoo allowing campers to meet animals in the classroom, visit the exhibits, make crafts, play games and more. An adult must also accompany each child (at no extra cost). Cost is $180 for members; $200 for non-members.

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this publication and the mom of four amazing kids.