Enjoying Summer Camps with People of All Abilities

Published on April 3rd, 2017

Summer camps, day camps, weekend retreats and vacation Bible school programs all love to use the outdoors to help participants experience God’s creation. Including people of all abilities is possible, especially if a few things are considered by directors, leaders and staff.

Nature Walks

Bad weather and other natural events often make pathways difficult to maneuver. By exploring the route prior to the activity, leaders can either move obstacles or change destinations without drawing attention to campers who may have difficulty with fallen trees or mud pits.

Consider using something concrete for the group to focus on to help with understanding the goal. For example,
use sample paint chips of various colors to find items in nature that match the colors campers carry in their hands.

Use pictures or actual photographs of items campers are to collect for scavenger-hunt games or specific observations you want made.

If the pathway is not accessible, change the rules. Take the campers to one location where they can see all types of living things. Use a bingo board or a list of Bible verses to reflect what they see. For example, when the camper sees a bird, cross off the bird on the board or read or listen to Ps. 84:3.

Outdoor Games

If playing a game, have groups of two to four on a team. This allows the group to incorporate the gifts of all the campers to play the game.

Consider using small pillows or stuffed animals for catching rather than a ball. It’s easier to grab and squeeze for successful catching.

Consider using pinnies (vests) so players can tell immediately who is on their team.

Change the rules to accommodate all the participants. For example, instead of playing traditional basketball, spread the group out and make everyone stay in the spot you assigned them. Have the teams try to toss the object to their teammates from their spot. Use a clean garbage can as the target.

Be Prepared

Bring water bottles to prevent dehydration, sanitary wipes for cleanliness or emergencies, plastic bags with handles for carrying items, and a cell phone or walkie-talkie to contact the office for help.

Written by Sandra Brese Rice, Director of Religious Resource Creation, Bethesda
Originally published in March 2017 edition of the Lutheran Witness