Adaptive Programs

Making Recreation Accessible

Albany Summer P.A.L.S. – Peer Assistance, Leadership and Support

The City of Albany Recreation & Community Services Department is piloting a new program aimed at integrating children with special needs into our mainstream camps. Our Albany High School Teen Mentors will be paired with campers to help them build relationships and strengthen their recreational skills while having the time of their lives!

Summer Teen Mentors: To become a Teen Mentor (grades 8-12), you must fill out an application by May 15, 2018. Applications will be reviewed and qualified candidates will be contacted to set up an interview. If you are chosen to be a Summer Teen Mentor, you must be available for one of the following training dates – Tue, June 5 (5-7 pm) or Sat, June 9 (9-11 am).

Teen Mentor Application

For more information, contact Nancy Henderson.

F.A.Q. for Parents (each of the question links will link to the actual question below)

Who are the Summer P.A.L.S. Teen Mentors?
Who is eligible?
What are the next steps if my child is accepted?

How do I know my child will like their Teen Mentor?
How do I apply for Albany Summer P.A.L.S.?

What if my child has more significant special needs?What is the cost?

Who are the Summer P.A.L.S. Teen Mentors?
All our summer Teen Mentors are Albany High School students that have been involved in either the Best Buddies or PE P.A.L.S. school-year program. They are truly committed and have worked closely with special needs students, befriending them, sharing lunch and activities, or helping them successfully integrate into A.P.E. classes. Each Teen Mentor is individually screened by staff and required to fill out an application listing their interests and hobbies, availability, and experience. This information is integral in the camper matching process.

All Teen Mentors will be required to attend a two-hour hands-on pre-camp training led by Nancy Henderson, AUSD Adaptive PE Teacher with more than 30 years of experience. This training will cover basic principles of behavior management, accommodations, and recommendations for safe and successful inclusion in the camp experience.

Who is eligible?
We understand that children with developmental or behavioral difficulties have a variety of different needs. In order to best serve your child, we will be hand-selecting campers and Teen Mentors that are a good fit for our summer camp program.

In order to be successful in our first year, we are accepting a limited number of campers. We are unable to accommodate campers with toileting issues, medical issues requiring protocols or those who are apt to elope.

Fill out a camper application. All camps may be eligible for Summer P.A.L.S. – peruse the Summer Activity Guide and list your top 5 camps/weeks. When picking camps, please consider your child’s needs and interests as well as camp specifics (see examples below).

When exploring possible camps for your child, keep the following in mind:

1. Camp size and counselor: camper ratio
2. Camp Environment: Highly structured vs. less structured
3. Physical space and accessibility
4. Sensory environment
5. On-site vs. off-site, nearest bathroom
6. Length of Camp Day

Staff will choose the ‘best fit’ for your camper based on their interests, needs and camp availability.

What are the next steps if my child is accepted?
Once your child is accepted, staff will contact you to set up a camper/parent interview. At this meeting, we will review your application and child’s needs. After your interview, your child will be matched with their Teen Mentor.

How do I know my child will like their P.A.L.S.?
Once matched, your child and Teen Mentor will have the opportunity to meet and get to know each other in-person before camp. During the visit, you may discuss any issues that will allow the Teen Mentor to understand you child’s special needs. Volunteers will also be encouraged to visit more than once if their schedule allows. If you or your child do not feel comfortable with your Teen Mentor, please contact the Recreation & Community Services Department (510-524-9283) and we will make every attempt to find another Teen Mentor for your child.

Our hope is that staff will not need to contact you but just in case, parents are required to be on call during camp hours.

How do I apply for the Albany Summer P.A.L.S. program?

  1. Fill out an Albany Summer P.A.L.S. camper application which include a liability waiver. For best matching results, please describe your child’s special needs in detail on the application.
  2. Identify which camps work well for your child and summer schedule.
  3. We will screen each child’s application carefully and may contact you for additional information. We will contact references to assure the suitability of your child to our program.
  4. If accepted, we will notify you and schedule a camper/parent interview.
  5. Once a Teen Mentor match has been made, you may contact your Teen Mentor to schedule an in-person meeting.
  6. Staff will be in contact with the camp instructor and if possible, a pre-camp meeting will be arranged.

What if my child has more significant special needs?
We have found that Teen Mentors are not comfortable managing the toileting or medical needs of a camper; therefore, we will not be able to accommodate these needs. Additionally, we are unable to accommodate campers with seizures or those who are apt to elope.

What is the cost?
There is no additional cost for the Albany Summer P.A.L.S. program. The camp fee is simply the cost listed in the Summer Activity Guide.

For questions, contact Eva Phalen at (510) 559-7227.