Summer holidays – whether you adore them or secretly dread their arrival, there’s no denying they stretch on and on!
We’ve all wrestled with that tiny knot of anxiety as we contemplate the endless hours to fill with our kids without relying on screentime every single day. There is a silver lining: camps make friends, and gain new skills. From and organised activity days can be the antidote you need to help you combat the “endless summer” curse. School holiday superheroes – rescuing parents and kids from the brink of boredom and cabin fever.
Camps hold a special place in any child’s heart, providing not only a break from the routine but also a world of fun, adventure, and friendship; core memories just waiting to be made. And for children with disabilities, these camps offer much more than a simple escape from the everyday; they are gateways to empowerment, skill-building, and valuable peer interactions.
Here we’ve gathered information on just a selection of camps for children with disability running around Australia.* Camps like Variety Kids Camp, QLD, designed for children with physical disabilities, and the specialised programs at Autism Camp Australia; all the camps on these pages offer children unique opportunities to explore their interests, make friends, and gain new skills. From building social connections to discovering hidden talents, they open doors to a world of possibilities, within a supportive and inclusive environment.
SONY FOUNDATION HOLIDAY CAMPS
The Children’s Holiday Camp Program is a unique respite program that sees high school students take on responsibility for the care of children with disability. The camp provides a much-needed break for parents and carers while simultaneously giving the children an incredible holiday and the teenage carers an eye-opening experience. The camp is provided at no cost to families.
Over the course of four days, the student companions provide 24-hour care to camp participants. Feeding, bathing, entertaining and tending to their every need. From movie nights to art session, zoo visits to sailing, the companions stop at nothing to give each camper the holiday of a life-time! Up to 30 camps run across Australia throughout the year. sonyfoundation.org/what-we-do/childrens-holiday-camps
An offering from The Sensory Gym, Camp Jabiru is based upon the Camp Avanti model in the United States. The aim of Camp Jabiru is for children to
have a typical camp experience with the addition of therapeutic intervention to support and facilitate successful individual participation and group experience. Camp is staffed by a highly skilled team of occupational therapists, OT Students and YMCA outdoor education staff. sensorygym.com.au/camp-jabiru
JUNIOR WHEELIES DAY CAMPS
The Junior Wheelies Camps are for children aged 6-18 years who want to have some fun and give wheelchair sports a try. Participants will be able to have a go at Wheelchair Rugby, Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Cricket, Wheelchair Aussie Rules and Wheelchair tennis. Junior Wheelies is more than just sport, it is a fantastic community to share stories amongst the juniors and the adults. https://wsnsw.org.au/our-programs/junior-wheelies-camps/https://wsnsw.org.au/our-programs/junior-wheelies-camps/
AUTISM CAMP AUSTRALIA
Strengths based neuro-affirming programs for Autistic young people and their families. Autism Camp Australia addresses the needs of Autistic youth (ages 7-14) and their families, including those with coexisting conditions. Through experiential learning camps, ACA fosters engagement, supporting young individuals to integrate into mainstream society. They champion neurodiversity, aiming for self-reliance, independence, social bonds, and community inclusion. Neurodivergence is a fundamental part of ACA, with an Autistic-led approach. Camps run in VIC, NSW, WA and QLD. autismcampaustralia.org
VARIETY QLD KIDS SPORTS CAMP
The Variety Kids Sports Camp offers kids living with a physical disability the opportunity to try out a variety of different sports to determine which they enjoy and want to continue playing. It is a two-and- a-half-day experience open to kids aged between 6 and 15 years old. variety.org.au/qld/variety-sports-camp
DOWN SYNDROME NSW – UP! CLUB
If you have an older teen or young adult with Down syndrome who’s looking for things to do, this one’s for you. With a focus on workshops, varied activities for all abilities, connecting with friends and lots of FUN, the ever popular camp program features yoga and meditation, relationship workshops, sports & fitness activities, arts & crafts and heaps more. Keep an eye on their website for the full program of events that run throughout the year – downsyndrome.org.au/nsw/services-and-supports/people-with- down-syndrome/upclub/
CAHOOTS – CAMPS & ADVENTURES FOR ALL ABILITIES
Cahoots (formerly Kids’ Camps) is a community organisation in WA providing exciting and rewarding programs and camps for children and young people living with a disability. They run a variety of programs and camps over weekends and school holidays throughout the year, catered to children and young people aged between 5 and 25. They run programs for children who are able to walk unassisted, as well as high support camps for those who need one-to-one support or use a wheelchair. cahoots.org.au
WHAT ABILITY CAMPS
Held in QLD, VIC and NSW on several dates throughout the year, during a What Ability Camp participants are provided with one-to-one support in a relaxed, group environment for between 2 days and 1 night, up to 7 days and 6 nights away from home, depending on support needs.
Camps are filled with fun activities like jet-skiing, beach days, bushwalks, caring for and feeding animals, water slides, cooking meals and baking, campfires and roasting marshmallows, family style dinners and movie nights.
The unique experience is aimed at:
• Providing unique social opportunities
• Facilitating interactions and engagement with others of a similar age and interests • Supporting development of meaningful friendships
• Increasing independence in self-care skills
• Exposing participants to new and different age-appropriate activities they don’t normally have the opportunity to access.
*Please check individual websites for running dates and application requirements. Some camps will run in Summer while others may run during other school holidays