Top 10 Summer Programs For High School Students With Learning Disabilities

High school may be perceived as a period of life that may teach a lot of life lessons. Summer programs may act as an extension to that vision, as they bring forth experiences that wouldn’t be a part of the predefined curriculum for a student. These campaigns may not be solely academic but involve vocational choices as well. 

These courses could cater to excelling already acquired skills, or they could just be something one chooses to explore out of the wild thoughts of their existence. For special learning aspirants, some personalized attributes may be further efficient. 

Having said that, parents who are working out to manage compromises may view summer vacations as the time to catch up and develop the social and academic quotient of their child. To assist in this context, here we have provided insights and also ten summer programs for special learning aspirants. 

Core elements towards a great summer of learning 

Although summer programs can be a mix of emotions for a high school student with learning compromises. Nonetheless, choosing the program that’s best suited for your child is the key that allows them the space to grow and discover themselves. Some of the elements mentioned here can help you pick the program that fits best with the personality of your child. 

1. Knowing the difference between a summer school and a summer program.

A summer school is oriented towards maintaining a child’s academic performance and working on their future, but a summer program is a refreshing environment for the child over the summers, providing practical lessons of life while preparing them for skills that aren’t honed academically.

2. Teacher-to-student Ratio 

One should always look out for programs that offer a balanced teacher-to-student ratio, making sure that the student learns in a monitored environment with adequate group size, ensuring their safety and exposure simultaneously. Ideally, a lower number of students in each session or group may be preferred as there is a greater chance for individualized attention. 

3. Duration of each session/Activity

Most of the summer programs range from being overnight camps to being 6 weeks long. That being the case, one should look for a program that’s congruent to the abilities of their child. A longer program might be suitable for a child who has been a part of previous smaller programs. 

4. Skill To be Developed

Each and every camp outlines its basic curriculum, and that is where one can get to know about the skills that they focus on. It could range from sports to drama, to scouts, or even arts. The skill that accentuates your child’s strength should be the chosen one. 

5. Stress Inclusion and Tolerance Policies 

While learning and discovering oneself is the purpose of life, so is being safe and involved. There are programs that are inclusive in their nature; their activities are curated in such a way that the child doesn’t have to feel accepted; they should be able to feel at ease instead. Moreover, since these programs accept students from all backgrounds, make sure to look out for their policies around any possible discrepancies.

Summer programs to look out for high schoolers with learning difficulties

Here, we enlist some of the top-rated summer programs that are curated specifically for high school students who think and learn a little differently from the world around them. 

1. The GOW School Summer Program (GSSP)

Catering to students from ages 8 to 16 years, it is a 5-week-long program. Based out of South Wales, it aims to provide opportunities that enrich, enhance recreation and facilitate fun amongst students who have been diagnosed with learning and language-based difficulties. 

This program offers morning, afternoon, and weekend fun sessions, ensuring flexibility of choice and classes. Coming to academic offerings, the GOW school ensures a reconstructive language program or language-based learning in various subjects like arts, sciences, and also in combinations. 

Apart from this, there are multiple activity options as well. The Weekday activities offer students twenty different options guided by Activity Instructional Clinics. These include enticing choices like lacrosse, lego robots, creek walls slip n slide along with common games like football. On weekends, excursions to areas like Allegheny National Forest and Cedar Point can ensure a great time for learners.

 What makes it a learning compromise friendly is that for every activity a manipulative or visual demonstration is ensured along with a special tutor. For instance, in robotics activity, every part is explained on the screen with a demonstration, and manipulatives are given to make them understand better. 

Official website

2. Camp Sequoia

Situated in Pennsburg, PA, Camp Sequoia, is a relatively short-termed summer program that offers overnight camping options to students with multiple learning compromises; with a 2:5 staffing ratio, this program claims to promise a safe and inclusive learning environment with experts that understand and accommodates to the needs of special teenagers. 

Focused on social development, every activity here is aligned with teachable moments for assured learning.  These programs often integrate frustration tolerance with social aspects making it unique. Children are divided into five age-specific groups and activities are assigned accordingly. Entry-level children may have swimming, paddle boating, D&D. Whereas seniors may have special activities focusing on teamwork, communication, and a structured environment. 

Parents can visit the camp for one day during the camp. Further, a special leadership team regularly attends to give insights about special needs children. This way, the camp is often up to date and suitable for special children. 

Official website

3. Glade Run Specialized Adventure Camp

The program offers a co-ed environment for students of ages 8 to 18 years. It focuses on students diagnosed with a spectrum of compromises, which could range to learning-related also. It’s a two-week-long, day-based camp, which even allows a caretaker to be a part of the day in a sustained manner. 

A number of features may make it an eminent choice. Firstly, the food and nutrition of the children are taken care of with snacks in the program. Secondly, selected students can also avail financial assistance. Further, the pupils can have a set of diverse options to choose from. These include science, hiking, farming, Horseback riding, and other alternatives like cooking, crafts, and creek walking. 

Official website

4. Timbertop Camp

Timbertop Camp is a Wisconsin-based overnight program for 6-7 days. It is designed specifically for youth with learning compromises. With a traditional sight to fun-based activities, this camp also focuses on dealing with special needs and special learning that arise in daily activities. Registered as a 501(c)3 organization, this board-operated academy may be a choice for parents expecting safety and care. 

Apart from the activity, certain responsibilities like clearing the campfire, and handling of canoe often make aspirants reliable and learn taking responsibility. 

Official website

5. Camp Lee Mar

Founded in 1953, Camp Lee Mar is a rather well-established facility that offers a 7-week-long residential special needs camp for students of ages 7 to 21 years. With an extensive experience and elaborated board of affiliations, it promises to cater to students diagnosed with learning compromises.

These summer programs can be fitting for special learning children. The academy chooses aspirants on the basis of several factors ranging from parental input to school IEPs and aims to create individualized programs for each camper. The ensures the personalization, making it fitting for specific compromises that the aspirant may have. 

Official website

6. Aerie Experiences

The word Aerie means an eagle’s nest. Based out of North Atlanta, Georgia, this summer program is specifically designed for individuals and families who have been navigating through the difficulties that come with Aspergers, High Functioning Autism, Learning compromises, ADHD, Neurological Disorders, and other special needs. 

The offerings may be broadly divided into 4 camps: 

  • Coastal Expedition: As the name indicates, the aspirants are taken on a one-day trip to a serene beach. Here, students may get a chance to play tidal marsh padel or treasure hunts. These often focus on ameliorating friendship, self-awareness, and social-emotional growth. 
  • Arts and Adventure: The students relish North Georgia Mountains here. The staff simultaneously offers instructions on various activities like ceramics, theater arts, folk crafts, and music too. 
  • Animal Farm and Carnival: To ensure a good time with animals, aspirants are taken to Camp Carnival’s Rescue Animal Zoo. The little ones interact with multiple animals, ensuring to ameliorate empathy.
  • Scuba Camp Expedition: Coordinating directly with parents, and educators, this one-week camp is taken to Martha’s Quarry to master Dive. With partnership with Ohana Dive company, the sessions may be worth relying upon. 

With diversified choices, learning compromised children can get the flexibility of options and also in activities in the camp. For instance, if they like to be with their parents, Scuba Camp Expedition can be selected.

Official website


SOAR has been providing youth with a community that is ADHD and LD friendly for over 45 years. It caters to pupils of ages 8 to 18 years. It offers carefully curated outdoor adventure activities for these children; It also provides a unique GAP year program for experiential learning for children with special needs. 

Several aspirant-friendly features may take this up on the list. Firstly, it often aims to ensure crucial attributes like confidence, friendship, adventure, and life skills in special aspirants. Further, a low staff-student ratio and better interaction create a good environment for little ones. 

Official website

8. Charis Hills

Located in North Texas, Charis Hills is a Christian summer program for students of ages 7 to 18 years with learning differences and social difficulties. It aims to deliver a positive and safe environment with a 1:3 staffing ratio and provides a tailored program according to the needs of each and every child, along with exposure to traditional adventure activities in a monitored environment. The duration may vary from 10-15 days, based on the age groups. 

While the institute focuses on the personalisation of the camp as per the aspiration needs, there are a number of activities students can choose from. Some of the eminent choices may include archery, fishing, free swimming, animal care, Giddyup, and sign language. Apart from this, family camp options are also available, where the whole family can move. This option may assist special parenting easier. 

All of the above activities are ensured with professional counselors. Further, the sensory needs of each aspirant are taken into consideration. This way it may turn a take-in for learning inclined individuals. 

Official website

9. Lions Camp Tatiyee

Situated out of Arizona, with a dedicated service span of 60 years, This camp provides a safe and cultivating environment for students with LD and ASD. It caters to youth of ages 7 to 21 years and provides a counselor over a small group of students to ensure their hygiene. It claims to offer an experience with long-lasting friendships and memories over a duration of 5 days, with no additional charges. 

The programs here are divided into subcategories like adventure, science, swimming, cultural, archery, and other activities like cooking and Yoga. The diverse set of choices may make it a well-liked choice for multiple aspirants. 

Official website

10. Summit Camp

Summit is a sleepaway summer camp for students of ages 8 to 21 years who have been trying to overcome emotional and social learning difficulties. This camp provides variable lengths from 1 to 9 weeks. 

Their staff includes educators, therapists, and support staff, who aim to provide an unparalleled experience to these individuals, with a 3:8 staffing ratio, serving 150-280 students per session. Here the summer camps are specialized for different sorts like Resident Summer camps, Summits, and teen travel.

Official website

A different approach for the minds that think differently

The long-running tradition of summer programs all over the world is somewhat of an oyster for any child who wishes to keep themselves engaged and channel their energy. 

Nonetheless, for children who think and learn a little differently, the opportunity to be a part of a summer program at the crucial stage of high school becomes vital. These may prove to be extremely rewarding before they venture out into the real world.

Summer Programs allow them to spread out their learning and enjoy it while experiencing it. A few benefits propounded by interactive and inclusive summer programs are:

1. Getting a break from the Curriculum 

The first and foremost benefit is that summer break allows the student to go above and beyond the academic horizons of knowledge and by learning unconventional courses that they wouldn’t otherwise.

2. Mitigating the summer downfall 

By downfall, we mean the prevention of the downward swing that every student hopes to take during the summer vacations. This vacation might as well be the right time to indulge these children in activities that facilitate the learning process.

3. Interactive Learning environment

With variations in learning modalities, most summer programs provide an interactive learning environment that is solely for the purpose of bringing out the hidden potential of the participant. 

Along with that, being away from home and under focused attention due to smaller groups allows for an intensive space, thus making the whole experience a lot more enriched for students with learning disabilities.

4. Allow space for Self Advocacy

Now that the students are in the companionship of their peers and the educators present at these programs and the parents are not there to guide the students, it makes them look out for themselves more than they would have, in any other situation. 

5. Enhanced Social Skills 

Summer programs might be the best possible environment for a high school student to be able to display leadership and companionship without being scrutinized for being empathetic and a community-oriented individual. 

6. Helps to learn & how to deal with stress 

With most of the benefits being around positive developments in the student, these summer programs are definitely a ground for revelation where the child gets to know the difference between the comfort of home and the intuitiveness required to function in an altered environment. 

Concluding thoughts 

With enough information to make a well-informed choice for your ward, we believe that Summer Programmes can help transform the lives of youth with learning disabilities by developing long-lasting and positive friendships and developing a personality around inspiring and caring role models.

The initiative to enroll one’s child into a summer program is a way to make sure that they learn to identify themselves out of their comfort zone and learn to self-advocate and propagate their needs as they develop and create a safe and successful environment for themselves. 

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