School Camp Dilema UPDATED

Stella Johnson

Active Member
The 5th graders in our school district go to a school sponsored camp every year that is about 4 hours away from here.

difficult child's principal called today asking if I thought she should go or not. He is afraid with her seizures but she hasn't had one in almost a year now. I told him this as well. difficult child has been going to a special needs camp since 1st grade and this last year went to church camp for regular kids.

He said this camp has lots of physical activity. While difficult child isn't the most graceful child in the world (more like a bull in a china shop) I still think she can handle it. She loves camp and loves the outdoors.

I asked him when they were going to send home the info about the camp. He said they already sent home a flyer that told when to be at a certain meeting that apparently has already been held to explain the details of the trip. I go through difficult child's backpack every day. I don't see how i could have missed this. Now I'm wondering if they didn't send it on purpose.

Her principal was great last year. Not sure what to think right now. I guess I just don't get what their hesitation is. The principal is leaning toward not letting her go. I just don't get it.



Active Member
Personally, I would not allow my children (special needs or not) to go to an overnight school-run camp (we have done church run camps with mixed results). I know as a child that the worst bullying of the year happened at the overnight camps. While I did not go, I know classmates came home different from the camp -- and not in a good way, they were traumatized.

In general, school staff can't prevent bullying when they only have to watch the kids 9-3 in a controlled building. Now they are expected to maintain constant vigilance 24 hours a day???? Not gonna happen.

Our district has gone to a day camp for outdoor ed. The kids spend 5 hours for 2 days at the local forest preserve and 2 more days doing outdoor ed projects on the school grounds.

But if you trust them to supervise her and really want her to go, they can't refuse to let her go. They may need to pay an aide to go with her, but that is their problem.


Well-Known Member
It may just be an oversight on teachers part that the camp info didn't get home in difficult child's backpack. I wouldn't assume the worst without talking to the teacher first.

and...WOW, she's in 5th grade now, hard for me to imagine her being this age. I keep seeing her as such a little girl in my mind.

Hope she gets to go, sounds like she would fun!

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

I wonder if there isn't a concern over difficult children seizure disorder combined with the distance from home & staff's inability to handle that level of emergency, should it come to that?

I hope that this gets straightened out & difficult child will be able to attend.


Former desparate mom
If you think she will be ok, I would want her to be included. There is always the possibility of a meltdown in which case offer to go to pick her up. I have done it in the past with difficult child.
difficult child went to a Special Education type camp(private). He didn't make it past the bus ride. I had to drive 4 hrs to pick him up.
The whole point is that she be kept as close as her peers socially. Are all children with epilepsy being kept home?
Any special needs kid needs more supervision. Can you see them telling a mother of a child in a wheel chair they can't go?
easy child loved school camp but he is a easy child.
The principal would have to come up with a better excuse. Sorry Steph but I think this is one of those "difficult child is too much work". Equal and appropriate education goes for all school sponsored events.
I wouldn't accuse anyone of not sending info but I would make sure you get the packet tomorrow so you can make an informed decision.

She is not unstable from an epilepsy point of view or mood disorder point of view.

Here we are, twins again! LOL!! We are wrestling with the same decision for Aly. I am actually leaning towards not letting her go since she barely spends any time in the Gen Ed class this year. Long story! UGH!!

But, at her IEP yesterday, I asked if an aid could be assigned to her if we do allow her to go. They would look into it for me if we want.

I LOVED camp as a child and I hate not letting her go. We didn't have any bully problems at our camp. Plus I did girl scouts and loved that as well. We let her go to a one night Brownies camp 2 summers ago and she did great.

Good luck, and I hope she gets to go!!



Well-Known Member

Son went to a school sponsored Science Camp in 5th grade. I was very worried about him. Especially, when it comes to the night time bedwettting and possible meltdowns. I talked to his teachers and prinicipal. Luckily, camp staff was very sensitive to any kind of special needs. Also, teachers took my concerns into consideration when picking what students he was going to share a cabin with. Is there going to be a nurse (RN) at the camp? There was at son's and she handled all the medication stuff.

I was a nervous wreck the first day. Then, I realized I had to let it go. Son really wanted to go and I want him to have as normal life as possible.

There was a bully-type situation that happened with a couple of female students bothering girls when they were trying to use the restroom. The were booted out and their parents had to pick them up immediately, as per the signed agreement (3 hour drive).

If at all possible, let her go.


Active Member
My difficult child went to overnight school camps grades 6, 7 & 8 (6 & 7 one night and 8 2 nights). I too was worried about meltdowns etc., but as Fran said, in that case you can always go pick them up. Four hours is a long drive, but I think it's worth trying to have them included. These sort of activities are the only thing that made school worthwhile for my difficult child. He was excluded from all the trips and out of school activities for 3 years, and being able to go was such a good feeling for him. difficult child LOVED all 3, the teachers had nothing but good things to say about him, and from the grade 7 one he came home liking lasagne. He would never eat that at home for me before, and now likes it, and meat sauce on his pasta. Bonus for me.LOL Being excluded just made him feel even more different.


New Member
Steph, I'm going to PM you and see if its the same camp my kids are going to and have gone to. Its new as of last year. I went as a counselor and it wasn't bad at all. I'll PM you with more questions and see if its the same and see if anything I can share about our experience helps put your mind at ease.

I agree with Fran, if you think she'll be okay, then insist she go. It's not fair that the principal not allow her to.


Roll With It
WOW! 5th grade. I still remember meeting both of you at Fran's house in Dallas. I bet she is a beauty, and always thinking. So wonderful that your child is not the kind that sits until someone tells them what to do. Though it can be a double edged sword.

If you are comfortable and she wants to go, she should go. Are there any grades assigned based on what they do/learn at camp? How will school manage to let her learn the same info if they do not let her go?

There is a lot of time for making new friends, and often exercises designed to foster this. It could make quite an impact if she is one of the few who doesn't go. in my humble opinion, the kids are very quick to make judgements about the students who don't go on these trips. Especially by 5th grade. Cliques, cliques, cliques. Ick.

I would try to go to school and pick up the paperwork and corner the principal or guidance counsellor or whomever to get the 411 on this. Not on why you didn't get the info. Or on what he meant by his call. But on what the camp is designed to do, what goes on there, and what adults will be going. Are you willing/able to go as a chaperone? (I realize that often the point of htese camps is to encourage independence, but if your attendance determines her attendance, well, I would think about it.).

Remember, she is entitled to a FAPE in the LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT. If you feel she can handle camp, well, does it get much less restrictive in public schools (or any other school held indoors?).

Just remember, tomorrow is TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY, so go prepared to share a tankard, or to make 'em walk the gangplank!!

Hugs to both of you!

Stella Johnson

Active Member
My difficult child hasn't experienced much bullying except on the bus. There is another special needs child who likes to call her very bad names. This child is not in her grade so I'm sure he won't be there. I'm glad she hasn't had to deal with much bullying. The kids in her class know about her seizure disorder and are actually very helpful with her. She has lots of friends.

Yes, she is much older than the last time you saw her. She's 5'1" now! (I think she's taller than you ;))

timer lady,
The principal asked how long it had been since she had a seizure. It's been almost a year now I think. I told him I really wasn't concerned about that.

difficult child loves camps too. I really think she should go. I'm sure they wouldn't have had that conversation with a kid in a wheelchair.
She has been stable for so long I really dont see a need not to let her go.

Just Keep Swimming,
Why do you not want her to go? Is she having problems with her peers this year? I hope it works out for you guys. I know everything is such a difficult decision with our kids.

Glad to hear it worked out so well for your difficult child. :dance:

I agree, it is worth the drive if I have to make it.

Her little brain still doesn't slow down. That hasn't changed. :hammer:
I don't think there are grades attached to this camp but I'm not sure since I didn't get the paperwork.
They asked if I would want to chaperone but honestly difficult child does much better when I'm not there. She acts out more if I am there.


I am not sure about letting Aly go since she is brand new to the school and is not in the Gen Ed class much so doesn't know ANY 5th graders yet. She is full of anxiety this year and having daily panic attacks. The work is sooooo hard for her, and she is realizing how very different she is from her same age peers. She is spending most of her day with the resource teacher.

Part of me thinks it would be good to immerse her in a setting that is a little scary for EVERYONE so she can see how normal that is. And it would force her to made some acquaintances, if not friends.

I dunno. Still debating. Ours isn't till Spring so I have a little time to decide. I may end up going as a chaperone if we let her go.

Good luck!!


Stella Johnson

Active Member
Well, turns out that the meeting about the camp hadn't already happened. Tuesday I found a note in difficult child's backpack saying the meeting was Thursday, today. So I went.

I'm not sure if the principal was just really misinformed or really doesn't want difficult child to go. First he tells me the meeting already happened and that I missed the note. Next turns out he doesnt even know where it is.

The camp isn't 4 hours away in Oklahoma. It's about 2 hours east of Dallas.... where we are!!!! :nonono:

The camp itself isn't any more physical than any other camp difficult child has been to. Normal camp stuff really.

There is one chaparone to every 4 kids. So the ratio is good. I think difficult child can handle that.

I am sending difficult child to the camp. I'm a little peeved at the principal. I hope he was just really uninformed and not intentionally feeding me bad info to talk me into not sending difficult child. :grrr: