Special Needs Summer Camps in America

Special Needs Summer Camps

Special needs camps in America are without doubt one of the most rewarding and incredible environments you could ever work in.


The facilities and activities have been created to be accessible to children of all abilities and to give campers who may not be able to partake in other camps, the opportunity to flourish and shine


At a special needs summer camp, you will be there to support the campers and provide them with the specialised attention they need to have an amazing time. This does mean that being a special needs summer camp counselor is a challenging role and will require a dedicated and caring personality.


The difference you’ll make in the lives of your campers is enormous. This is an opportunity for you to truly develop as a person and open your eyes, mind and heart to a group of incredible people.

What to Expect

Hard work and a lot of fun. It sounds cliche (and we tend to avoid them) but it’s true; special needs camp is that bit tougher, but that bit more rewarding.

Top Tip

Experience of working with individuals with special needs in the UK is an enormous advantage to your application. While US practice may be different to the UK, the principles of empathy and patience will always remain the same.

What Not to Expect

Don’t expect too much normally. Special needs camp is a crazy world that will keep you on your toes, incredibly busy and filled with extraordinary stories once you return.

You’ll Love

The feeling of working with an incredible group of individuals who will offer you as much as you offer them. You really will return a more developed, self-aware and appreciative, rounded person.

The Campers

While all camps are different, the majority of special needs camps work with both children and adults in a residential setting. The majority of camps work with a variety of disabilities and special needs, from physical and mental disabilities, to learning and emotional needs. 

Many of the campers will come from families and care homes in the local area and the majority of them return to summer camp year on year, meaning that there is very strong bond between the camp and the campers. Many special needs Camp Counselors who return to camp do so to see the campers they made bonds with in their first year - working at a special needs camp really offers you some amazingly special relationships.

The Role

While you don’t always have to have experience of working in a special needs setting, you do need to be open to all aspects of special needs work; from feeding, showering and toileting your campers, to the physicality of pushing wheelchairs and lifting. It may seem a little daunting at first, but with the specialised training you’ll receive on site and the excitement of camp, these aspects of the job become the easiest. It’s parting with your campers at the end of a camp session that you’ll struggle with.

The skills and experiences you develop at camp will hang around to last you a lifetime. It is very challenging work, but you’re going to come away from camp with a greater strength of patience, empathy and work ethic. If you're looking for a career within a social care or special needs setting, then working at a special needs camp will greatly increase your employability and you'll come back with over 300 hours of hands on experience.

As a special needs counselor, it will be your job to lead all aspects of personal care for your camper(s), you will also assist them in camp activities, ensure their well being and to support them in their independence. Ultimately, it is your job to provide them with an amazing summer at camp.

Applying for a Special Needs Camp

As part of your Camp Leaders application, you will specify what kind of camp you’re interested in working in and we will then look to match you with your preferred camp. You will have the option to select working with campers with special needs as part of your application and our team will do their magic. Remember that being more open to working at different camp types increases your chances of placement.

Placement Opportunities with Camp Leaders

Camp Leaders works with over 500 hundred of the best camps in America, giving you some of the highest placement chances in the industry. Camps over in the US use a number of UK-based agencies to recruit staff and Camp Leaders has been one of the key providers for  nearly 20 years, giving you the security of finding that summer job in America.

Spend your summer at special needs camp in America
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