Camp “Kids First”

Camp “Kids First” is a summer day camp for autistic and other exceptional children aged 4-17-years-old in the Wood Buffalo region.  Participants have the opportunity to experience typical summer camp experiences like their peers do. We offer experiences such as swimming, rock-climbing, music and dance classes, boat trip on the river, arts & crafts, visits to Heritage Park, Oilsands Discovery Centre, day trip to Gregoire Lake beach area, just to name a few.

The needs of every child are met individually and one-to-one support is provided by our team of dedicated and experienced support workers. Children participate in a variety of activities that promote social skills, play and communication.

If you would like sponsor our 11th annual summer day camp that will
give children and youth aged 4-17 years-old with autism and other special needs the opportunity to experience typical summer camp experiences like their peers do. Please see letter for more details.  CKF.sponsorshipletter.2022

Camp Kids First 2021 – Annual Report

Despite another summer faced with challenges due the global pandemic, camp turned out to be an amazing experience for 70 children and youth in our community!

We followed the modifications from 2020 to provide a safe and healthy summer camp experience for families. These modifications included: smaller group sizes, staggered start and end times, no additional visitors in camp area (drop off and pick up at front door), individual ‘activity baskets’ (crafts, sensory toys, etc.) for children, PPE (masks, sanitizer, gloves, etc. for staff and youth), daily screening on arrival for both staff and children, field trips planned that promoted physical distancing as much as possible.

Our summer day camp is unique to any other in our region as it is the only camp that accepts ALL children regardless of needs, medical conditions, and any exceptionalities. While many of the children that attend camp are neurodiverse we also had children attend camp that have Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, hearing and vision impairments and more. To provide the best summer camp experience for all we provide one-to-one support workers for each child, who can meet each child’s individual needs.

Activities at Camp Kids First are planned intentionally to suit the needs of each child’s individual physical, cognitive, sensory and social-emotional needs. Support workers are able to adapt activities to ensure all children have a chance to participate. We encourage children to try new things at camp and parents are often shocked at hearing some of the activities their children did that they ever thought they would!

Some activities the group enjoyed were, parks and water parks, scavenger hunts, crafts, music and dancing, horse club visit, games, ten-pin bowling and laser tag at The Alley YMM, visit to HERO Helicopters, visits from RCMP, a day at the lake/beach and a river boat trip with Running Bear Adventures – it was an amazing summer camp experience for all!

Parent Survey Feedback: 

  • 100% parents found the online registration process “easy”
  • 92% parents were “very happy” with COVID-19 precautions in place for camp (8% were “neither happy or not happy”)
  • 88% parents were “very happy” with communications regarding camp (12% were “somewhat happy”)
  • 96% parents were “very happy” with camp leadership and support staff (4% were “somewhat happy”)
  • 90% parents were “very happy” with camp activities and field trips (10% were “somewhat happy”)

Every year parents tell us that they wish camp ran for longer hours, more days, and more weeks each summer. One day we hope to have the capacity (space, staff, and funding) to provide this for families.

The smiles on the kid’s faces are always the best feedback we have for Camp Kids First!

                                                                   

Camp Kids First would not be possible without the generosity of our community partners… we thank the following organizations for supporting Camp Kids First in 2021.