Zodiac Day Camp (“Zodiac”) is committed to providing excellence and accessibility in its camp programming to campers and staff. Services are provided in a manner that respects the dignity and independence of campers, staff, families and guests. Persons with exceptionalities are welcomed, included and supported at the camp and the camp endeavours to meet the special needs of such individuals to the best of its abilities. The provision of services to persons with exceptionalities is integrated wherever possible. The camp promotes equity of opportunity to those with exceptionalities and provides support systems when necessary and where reasonably possible, to facilitate equal access to obtain, use or benefit from the goods and services offered by and on behalf of Zodiac.
With Respect to Staff:
Zodiac welcomes staff of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, needs and abilities. We strongly believe that diversity is an important aspect of camp and will foster a positive camp environment for all involved in the Zodiac program. Zodiac is committed to hiring individuals who will promote our inclusion policy. All individuals who are able to fulfill the responsibilities and requirements of a staff member at Zodiac are encouraged to apply. Whenever reasonably possible, Zodiac provides support and assistance to staff members with exceptionalities.
With Respect to Campers:
Zodiac promotes inclusion for campers with exceptionalities, and strives to meet the specific needs of each individual camper whenever possible.
In order to maintain the integrity of our inclusion program, and to ensure the safety of all participants at camp, it is necessary to put limits on how many campers with exceptionalities can be enrolled and to outline the nature of the program and the physical facilities.
Steps To Determine whether Zodiac Day Camp Can Meet Needs of a Camper With Exceptionalities:
1) Inquiry by parent(s)/guardian(s) of potential camper with exceptionalities as to whether Zodiac can meet the needs of the child in question;
2) Zodiac’s Director(s) and/or the Inclusion Coordinator, have an initial conversation with the parent(s)/ guardian(s) to discuss the camper’s specific needs and to provide a detailed outline of the camp program and opportunities for accommodation;
3) If, following the initial conversation, it appears that Zodiac may be an appropriate fit for the potential camper, the next step is to have a meeting that includes the Zodiac’s Director(s) and/or Inclusion Coordinator with the family and, as appropriate, the potential camper to further assess whether Zodiac is an appropriate camp for the child. If, following the initial conversation, it is determined by Zodiac, hopefully in conjunction with the camper’s family, that Zodiac cannot meet such camper’s needs, Zodiac will endeavour to recommend a good alternative for the camper. Zodiac maintains the right to make such a determination in what it believes are the best interests of the camper and the camp.
4) In order to meet the specific needs of campers with exceptionalities, Zodiac may determine that particular support systems will be required to ensure the safety and dignity of the camper, staff and other participants in the Zodiac program. The goal of the Camp is to integrate the camper with exceptionalities as much as possible into the regular camp program. Such support systems may include one of the following:
- a) a determination that the camper requires a 1:1 support staff to be provided by the family. In this situation, the family is required to hire, train and pay the support staff. Zodiac requires that the support person attend the camp prior to the camper’s start at Zodiac to receive specific training about Zodiac camp policies and procedures. The training session takes place at Zodiac’s summer camp site. The support staff is required to adhere to Zodiac policies and direction while at Zodiac;
- b) a determination that the camper requires a 1:1 support staff to be provided by Zodiac. In this situation, Zodiac decides which specific staff member will be assigned to work with the camper. The family must recognize that, in such instance, the staff member will be an individual who has expressed an interest / willingness to work with campers who have exceptionalities, but that the staff member may not have any previous experience or training in working with such individuals. The family will be responsible to pay an additional fee for the support staff. The fee will be discussed with the family in advance. Fees are calculated on a weekly basis and will range depending on the age and experience of the 1:1 support staff;
- c) a determination that the camper requires additional support, but that a 1:1 support staff is not required. In this instance, Zodiac may assign an additional counsellor to the cabin group for assistance. In this circumstance, the family must recognize that the additional staff member is there for the benefit of the entire cabin group and is not there specifically for the individual camper. The additional counsellor may have to be moved from the cabin group if necessary to meet the needs of the camp and, if this is necessary, it is at Zodiac’s sole discretion to move the counsellor as necessary without notice to the family. Zodiac will endeavour to let the family know about such movement if possible;
- d) a determination that an additional staff is not required to meet the needs of the individual camper. In this circumstance, the counsellors and other staff (e.g. swim instructor, specialists, etc.) will be informed of the camper’s special needs and will be offered specific guidance (if applicable) about how to best meet the needs and abilities of the camper.
Steps To Determine If Support Systems Are Required:
To best meet the needs of campers with exceptionalities, it is essential that Zodiac and the family work together to ensure the success of the camper in question, such camper’s group and the overall camp program. The family’s providing accurate information prior to camp is necessary for both parties to be comfortable and properly prepared to support the camper as necessary.
During the course of the camper’s time at Zodiac, it may become apparent that the circumstances are not what either Zodiac and/or the family expected. Sometimes campers respond differently than anticipated. If this is the case, then the Camp will provide descriptive and ongoing information to the family as the situation is being monitored. It may be that changes to the camper’s program are required. For example, a level of support different than what was originally expected and put in place may be necessary. Zodiac will work in partnership with the family if such changes are required. The family must recognize however, that the safety and well-being of its camper and everyone at Zodiac must be the Camp’s priority and that changes to the camper’s support systems might be required at the discretion of Zodiac to ensure that the integrity of the Camp program for all participants is maintained in a safe and appropriate manner.
5) Completion of the Health/Inclusion form will be required for all campers, including those with exceptionalities, by a date set by Zodiac prior to the camper’s first day of camp. Such form must be received by the office by the assigned date and Zodiac must have an opportunity to follow up with questions or concerns that are adequately addressed by the family before the child will be allowed to participate in any camp activities.
6) Parent(s)/guardians are required to provide updated information to Zodiac if new information is learned about the child prior to or during the camper’s time at Zodiac. Parent(s)/ guardian(s) are also encouraged to provide Zodiac with any resources or additional information that might help the camp to best meet the needs of the exceptional camper.
7) In order to enable the Camp to fulfill its responsibilities to the exceptional camper, Zodiac may request permission from the parent(s)/ guardian(s) to allow Zodiac’s Director, Inclusion Coordinator or other appropriate persons permission to speak with individuals who may have relevant knowledge about the child such as the child’s teacher, doctor or past camp supervisors, etc.
8) During the Camp session(s), it is important for parent(s) / guardian(s) to recognize that there are numerous staff who play an integral part in the successful transition and success of any camper at Camp. For campers with exceptionalities, the relevant Camp staff to work with the camper will often include our Inclusion Coordinator, Medical Team, Head Counsellor, specialists, counsellors and 1:1 support staff (if applicable).
9) Modifications to the camper’s program may be necessary during the child’s time at Camp. It may be determined that certain activities may not be suitable for the camper (e.g. if there is a physical challenge preventing rock climbing). In these circumstances, an alternative activity that can be done in the same location can be made available during that period (e.g. a craft), but please note that individualized alternative programming may not be an option for safety, supervision and/or logistical reasons.
10) Zodiac will provide ongoing communication with the family of the camper to update the family about the camper’s integration and progress in the Camp. Parent(s) / guardian(s) are always welcome to contact Zodiac for information about the camper and the Inclusion Coordinator or other relevant staff member will contact the parent(s) / guardian(s) as soon as possible. We ask the family to remember that during the day, the staff are busy supervising and participating in Camp programs. We therefore, ask the family to be patient if it does not hear back from Zodiac immediately. An appropriate staff member will get back to the family as soon as possible, and if there are any concerns, parent(s)/guardian(s) will be contacted as soon as possible. Parent(s) / guardian(s) are reminded that they are not permitted to follow their child around the Camp premises during the day. Parent’s Day (if applicable) and/or a Camp tour is a potential opportunity which could allow the parent(s)/guardian(s) to see the Camp in action.
With Respect to Families and Guests:
Zodiac is committed to providing accessible services to family members of campers and guests to our Camp. We will do our best to meet the needs of these individuals and will provide accommodations that are reasonably possible to assist a camper’s family members and guests.
Zodiac’s goal is to provide an exceptional camp experience for all of its participants and to meet the unique needs of all those involved in the Camp. Zodiac cannot meet the needs of every child, staff, family member or guest, but we will strive to do our best to work towards a safe, inclusive and successful summer for all involved. If you have any questions or comments, please contact our Camp office.