5 Tips for Party Planning for Individuals with Special Needs

Feb 20, 2020 | Camp Parties

Parties play a BIG role in bringing everyone together at Camp Barnabas in the summer; but they don’t have to be limited to June and July!

Hosting an event with your church, friends, or school can be a great way to reignite camp fun and celebrate your friends with disabilities.

Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

#1 Accessibility:

Accessibility is one of the most important parts to throwing a party for individuals with special needs:

  • If there is a portion of the party that is accessible by stairs, be sure that a ramp is also available to use. Don’t host your party on difficult terrain.
  • If there is an activity that requires sight, adapt that activity so that individuals with sight impairment can also participate.
  • If there is a presentation or speaking component that coincides with the party, have an ASL interpreter so that any individual with a hearing impairment can enjoy it as well.

#2 Sensory Safe Space:

Reserve activities and space of individuals who may be susceptible to sensory overload. Many individuals with cognitive disabilities can be easily overstimulated. Be sure to have space away from the party that includes calming activities, such as arts and crafts, for these individuals.

#3 Atmosphere:

At Camp Barnabas we believe our campers should be at the center of the party. We do this through “party immersion.” Our campers spend most of their year on the outside looking in; but at Camp Barnabas we want them to be in the middle of everything; including the parties. This means we go ALL OUT on our decorations, skits, music, and characters of the party to make being at the party incredibly entertaining for everyone! Our campers love it and your guests will, too.

#4 Know Your Audience and Be Adaptable:

At Camp Barnabas we serve a variety of different disabilities on any given week (some weeks we may serve individuals with physical disabilities and some weeks we may serve individuals with cognitive disabilities). That means week to week our parties may look a bit different and we may have to adapt certain aspects of the party to meet different needs.

On a large scale, planning a party for individuals who are blind will be different than planning for individuals who are in a wheelchair. On a smaller scale, this could look as simple as accommodating special diet requirements for your party goers, so that you can make arrangements if there aren’t snacks at your party.

#5 Come Together

Finally, don’t forget to bring everyone together, if possible. This allows everyone to feel like a part of the party even if they are not able to participate in every aspect. For example, have the party culminate to a group activity in the end where the entire party plays a game together or works together for an end goal. It’s a great way to end the night!

Need some theme inspiration to get started? Here are some themes we’ve used in the past:

  • Renaissance Fair
  • Olympics
  • Arcade Party
  • Mad Scientist
  • Carnival
  • Decades Dance

You can also check out our Pinterest party boards here to get more ideas for our Summer 2020 Nightly Party Themes.

As always, don’t forget to have a great playlist. Here’s a list of our favorite songs. Happy party planning!



 Beyond Barnabas  |    Camp Barnabas Creates  |    Camp Parties  |    Camping  |    Contest  |    Event  |    Featured Camper  |    Meet Our Staff  |    Missionary Stories  |    Staff Stories  |    Stories from Camp Barnabas  |    Tips  |    Camp Parties  |    Videos  |    New to Camp  |    Summer Camp Theme  |    Online Training  |    Water Park  |    Newsletter  |    Yeti Adventure  |    CAMP BARNABAS  |