Summer Camps and Recreational Activities in Michigan

The American Camp Association estimates that over 10 million children attend one of the nation’s 12,000 camps each year. Research supports positive outcomes of camp such as adventure and exploration, friendships with peers and adults, reduced summer learning loss, increased physical activity, opportunities for play and imagination, engagement and leadership opportunities.

Studies show that including children with ASD into settings where they can learn and interact with their peers is beneficial and leads to positive social relationships. Also, including children with ASD in a typical camp setting teaches their peers at camp to become more accepting of those with differences, which often transfers to other settings such as school.

Camp Resources

List of Camp Opportunities

Resources for Camp

Stories about Summer Camp

Recreation and Activities

The benefits of recreation for youth on the autism spectrum include opportunities to interact and make friends, practice motor skills, follow routines and directions, make choices and become more independent. Recreation helps to increase motivation and provides a richer experience that families and teachers can integrate into learning and conversation. Most of all recreation is fun!

Where to Build Relationships through Recreation

In every community there is a wide range of informal and formal opportunities for children and adults with autism to build relationships with others through shared recreation activities. Here are some of the places where such opportunities can be found and relationships nurtured:

  • Community education and recreation programs for youth and adults
  • Community sports leagues
  • Interest clubs (e.g.  gaming, sports, books, and service clubs)
  • Youth organizations (e.g. Scouting, 4-H, church youth groups)
  • Recreation and fitness center activities and programs
  • Cultural and ethnic centers
  • Community arts and theatre organizations
  • School carnivals and family nights
  • Open gym and swim times for the community at local schools and colleges
  • Extracurricular activities in K-12 schools
  • Early childhood play groups/Parent groups
  • Community volunteer organizations (see United Way and other volunteer organizations)
  • Youth drop-in centers
  • Nature centers, city parks

Inclusion in Community Programs Means...

Making all programs in which typically developing youth and their families participate accessible and available to youth with disabilities and their families.

  • Developing community programs for individuals with and without disabilities.
  • Placing individuals with disabilities in the same community programs that their parents would choose for them if they did not have disabilities.
  • Providing opportunities for special services to be provided and individual needs to be met, within typical community settings.
  • Providing opportunities for social relationships between individuals with and without disabilities.
  • Teaching all youth to understand, accept, and value differences.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this webpage is provided solely as a resource. Inclusion on this list does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement, nor does the omission of any particular program from this list imply disapproval. START will make reasonable efforts to keep this information current. However, programs may change at any time. Therefore, you are strongly encouraged to contact the organizations directly to ascertain whether available camp experiences would be appropriate for any particular child.

Page last modified July 10, 2017