Adaptive Programs - After School & Summer Camps

Making Recreation Accessible

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

Classes - Spring and Fall
After school classes are led by Nancy Henderson, Adaptive P.E. Specialist, at Cornell Elementary School. Classes are designed to get kids moving, socializing and having fun! Check out upcoming classes in the most recent Activity Guide. To register for school year classes, click here.

Summer P.A.L.S.
Whether they like cooking, the circus, Legos or sports, campers can choose from any of the Albany Recreation summer camps. Each camper is paired with their own Teen Mentor who attends camp with them each day – together they explore, learn and play while creating a lasting relationship.

Deadline to apply for Summer P.A.L.S. is May 15.

Teen Mentors
To become a Teen Mentor (grades 8-12), you must fill out an application (deadline for summer is May 15). Applications will be reviewed and qualified candidates will be contacted to set up an interview. If you are chosen to be a Teen Mentor, you must be available for one of the following training dates - dates: TBA

Teen Mentor Application

For more information, contact Nancy Henderson.

F.A.Q. for Parents

Who are the P.A.L.S. Teen Mentors?
Most of our Teen Mentors are Albany students in grades 8-12 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.

Please note that we are unable to accommodate campers with toileting issues, medical issues requiring protocols or those who are apt to elope.

Participant Intake Application

All camps are 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 participant/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 (summer only).

How do I know my child will like their Summer 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. You are 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 after school P.A.L.S. programs?

  1. Register for your preferred class online.
  2. Fill out an Participant Intake Application which includes a liability waiver. For best matching results, please describe your child’s special needs in detail on the application.
  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.

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

  1. Fill out an Participant Intake Application which includes 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 for summer. Additionally, we are unable to accommodate campers with seizures or those who are apt to elope.

What is the cost?
Refer to the Activity Guide for pricing information. There is no additional cost for the Albany Summer P.A.L.S. program.

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

 Quotes

“We loved being able to finally send our child with special needs to summer day camp. She would not have been able to go otherwise. The mentors we had were fabulous and our daughter LOVED seeing them every day. Thank you!!“

 “We were very thrilled to hear that this program was starting locally. We were happy to know that our son could attend a camp just like everyone else, but still have someone there to work with him directly as needed. We can't wait to do it again.”

 “We've always wanted to sign our son up for a camp, however, were hesitant due to his differing abilities. When we found out about the PALS program we were so excited that he would be able to participate with his friends. We are so grateful for this opportunity - not only for our son to be included, but to be a part of the greater Albany community that we love.”