To get an inside look at Camp Franklin, a sensory-friendly day camp for neurodiverse kids, we asked Enrichment & Camp program manager Chloe Herzog for her perspective.

Q: What is Camp Franklin in a nutshell? How do you describe it to parents who have never heard of it before?

A: Camp Franklin is a sensory-friendly day camp for neurodiverse kids. A behavior therapist leads each camp, to make sure that each kid’s needs are met. It’s a summer filled with crafts, sports, science, and community adventures. We want to be able to offer multiple camps spanning multiple interests, so there’s something for everyone!

Q: What kind of kid is the best fit for Camp Franklin? Who gets the most out of it?

A: I think someone looking to make friends, and actively participate in something they’re interested in, is going to get the most out of Camp Franklin. We don’t offer 1:1 services over the summer, so we only admit independent kids who don’t require 1:1 attention. If there are incidents of elopement or distracting behaviors, then Camp Franklin is not the right fit.

Q: What makes Camp Franklin different from other camps?

A: Camp Franklin is designed to support neurodiverse kids. Each camp is adjusted to support sensory needs, promote social and life skills, and celebrate growth.

Q: What kinds of offerings does it have? Is every week different?
A: We offer everything from arts and crafts and community service to wilderness exploration, sports, and cooking. I would compare it more to a YMCA camp, where it’s something new every week.

Q: What kind of staff do you have?

A: Our staff consists of trained classroom Behavior Therapists. Each staff member has worked at a behavior therapist at Franklin Academy (our K-12 school) and has also managed an after-school club – both of those are great preparation to run a camp.

Q: Do you have to be a student at Franklin Academy to attend?

A: Not at all! What makes Camp Franklin so special is we open our doors to the community. The application process is similar to the Academy, where we ask for specific documentation to determine if we have the staff to fully support a child over the summer. (Unlike during the school year, Camp Franklin does not offer 1:1 services, so we have to be more selective.)

Q: What’s the same at Camp Franklin as other summer camps?

A: We offer an array of camps similar to other day camp programs. For example, Robotics and Musical Exploration are camps you can find in different schools/programs. The difference is our trained staff.

Q: What tends to make parents hesitate to send their kids to Camp Franklin? What’s their biggest worry?

A: Neurodiverse kids often struggle in social situations, so a common concern for parents is that meeting new people will make their child shut down. But with our ratio of staff to kids, and the inclusive atmosphere, friendships aren’t a problem! In fact, kids come back just to be with friends – even if they only met them the summer before!

Q: What makes parents want to sign their kids up?

A: Camp Franklin is an inclusive environment for kids who have often felt left out in social situations. Knowing that Camp Franklin specializes in neurodiverse behaviors is a huge relief to parents.

Q: What do you like most about Camp?

A: I like to try out new camps. We keep some popular ones, like cooking and splash zone, but venturing out into the community and visiting/ trying a new activity is my favorite part. I also love to meet new kids!

Q: If I’m a parent of a neurodiverse child and most of our summer is booked, is there any value to doing one week of Camp Franklin? Or is that not enough for any benefit?

A: I would still recommend trying a week! We get a lot done in a week, whether that be completing a project, going on a field trip, or making a new friend. A student can gain important social skills in one week.

Q: Is there a story or anecdote you can share that shows what makes Camp Franklin a valuable summer experience?

A: It’s difficult to pinpoint one specific example. What I’ve noticed is the trend of kids coming back. They’ve created friendships here that lasted long enough to want to return the following summer! That shows how valuable Camp Franklin can be for kids who might struggle to branch out and make friends.

You can find out more about Camp Franklin on our website (including summer sessions for 2024 — we still have openings for sessions in July!) or reach out to schedule a conversation.