Technology is a fantastic equalizer, and we want to ensure the next generation of innovators has access to learning it, regardless of gender, race, background, orientation, or skill level. That’s why, even though we’re not specifically a special needs camp, we make every effort to accommodate each student interested in exploring the world of STEM.
How do we meet the needs of children with unique learning styles, atmosphere requirements, and personalities? The same way we individualize the camp experience for all our students — our stellar staff.
Behind the Scenes
It starts with our Education Department working year-round in the main office. This team, all with education backgrounds who have also worked at camp as instructors, craft curriculum that’s engaging and accessible. Take coding, for example.
“In general, coding and engineering are based in logic. Computers are boolean, black and white — so are many students on the autism spectrum. When they’re immersed in an environment where things are black and white, they find success,” says Rachel, Regional Manager.
iD Tech then builds on those solid curriculum foundations with in-person staff trainings held nationwide. For two months before summer, our Operations and Education teams personally meet and train every member of the summer staff hired to teach our students.
We teach our staff how to assist beginner students and challenge advanced ones. We show them how to use the curriculum (including how to incorporate their own ideas), how to keep students focused, and how to recognize when students need to take a break. We teach them fun games to make sure students get a robust, balanced summer camp experience. These lessons apply to all students, including those with special needs.
“We try to accommodate all students at camp as best we can so we can ensure they’re in the safest possible care,” says Alisa, Director of Compliance and Risk Assessment.
Whether that’s requiring all staff to be CPR and first aid certified or bringing in an American Sign Language interpreter for a student (or their parents!), we go the extra mile to ensure students have access to our programs. For example, if a student needs a little extra help, they’re more than welcome to bring an aide with them to camp (once they pass the same background checks we require of our staff).
Additionally, because iD Tech’s summer programs are held at middle and higher education campuses, those locations already address ADA compliance in terms of access points, ramps, elevators when possible, etc.
Staff trainings are just the beginning. Preparation meets practice when our instructors meet our students. The key to a successful summer for instructors, special needs students, and parents is communication.
The communication begins with the assessment parents fill out about their student before summer. The Camp Director and instructor who use this information to make plans to accommodate each student’s experience. But we don’t stop there.
“I had a student who had autism and did not get along well with others; he would become quite frustrated,” says Kim, Hiring Manager. “I made a phone call to my student’s mom; she was almost in tears, as she was expecting me to tell her to come pick up her student. Instead, I talked to his mom about how we could better work with him when his frustration levels were high.”
Kim learned from the student’s mother about a stoplight-themed behavior system the student responded to at home. Kim passed this information along to the student’s instructor as well as implementing it herself. Our guaranteed 8:1 ratio of students to instructors helped this process, allowing the instructor to provide individual attention throughout the day.
“The stop light system helped create consistency for our student,” says Kim. “We also worked with his mom to allow him Nintendo DS breaks — away from the other students so they wouldn’t get distracted — as a reward.
“Our student ended up loving his week at camp and became very close with me as well as his classmates. What it boiled down to was being patient and working with what he was familiar with both at home and school.”
It's All About Your Student
From the curriculum to training, from the assessment to parent phone calls, from interactions with students at camp to Family Showcase (where students present their projects to their parents on the final Friday of their session), we’re all about inclusion, flexibility, customization, and communication.
Is your student struggling? Tell us, and we’ll make it right. Does your student love the course? Tell us, we love to hear it! Does your student have special needs? Let us know, and we’ll welcome them.
Have more questions? You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 1-888-709-8324 to discuss your child and how we can help them succeed at camp. Or you can jump right to courses or locations near you.