Camping is an activity enjoyed by all and sundry. It’s the best kind of outdoorsy fun and essential for physical and mental rejuvenation. It is a more immersive experience rather than just spending an hour or so in nature. Camping is also an easy option for travel and adventure.
There are, yet, some people who cannot enjoy this activity. These are physically-challenged individuals. The good news is that they don’t have to remain deprived anymore. Campsites are hugely becoming accessible to the disabled also.
Understanding What is ADA Camping?
The letters ADA stand for Americans with Disabilities Act. It was passed in the year 1990. It discourages any form of discrimination against certain individuals. Those individuals that have a physical or mental impairment fall under this category. It usually affects one or more of their life functions.
How does ADA work?
The law actually makes it illegal to practice discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Anyone with a disability is to be accommodated and supported in all their functions.
It ensures that everyone gets equal opportunities and equal rights. Be it in public transit systems, financial systems, workplaces, and other commercial facilities.
This law set standards for accessible designs in all public accommodations. This includes having automatic doorways, ramps, and elevators for wheelchairs.
Other facilities like water fountains are being redesigned. They are at a lesser height to become accessible for people on wheelchairs. Some workplaces arrange for sign language interpreters, under this Act. It is for those with a hearing impairment.
Getting Info about ADA Camping
Everyone knows what camping is all about. It’s simply about enjoying some time in the great outdoors. And if we were to define ADA camping, it is about camping becoming possible for the disabled. Conducting research is the first and smartest way to go camping with a disability.
When one hears the word disabled, they immediately think of someone in a wheelchair. In reality, there is a massive and complex range of disabilities. The facilities needed for one disability would not apply for another one. It is important to first gain awareness about the type of facilities at an ADA campsite.
Some websites guide the families of people with disabilities about ADA-friendly campsites. Some families of disabled individuals provide detailed guidance on ADA campsites. There are also blogs and magazines by the disabled. They also provide authentic information about campsites and other ADA camping information.
The Disability Act does not specify what adjustments need to be made for the disabled. For campsites, it is sometimes difficult to always provide adequate facilities. They could either be surrounded by woods or have other limitations. In such cases, they create ADA-friendly plots on the campsite.
Older campgrounds have renovated to become ADA compliant. Which is why they may not always have the right facilities. They may put up a sign for wheelchair users near the restroom. This only indicates that wheelchair users can use the restroom with ease. This does not mean that the entire path to the restroom is also wheelchair-friendly.
There are, however, campsites coming up that are conducive to ADA. A lot of times the management of the campsite empathizes with ADA campers. They try to meet their needs and train their staff by holding regular seminars.
Some features should be a part of all ADA campsites. This article will explore the facilities an ADA-friendly campsite should have.
Signage or a map on a bulletin board should specify where the ADA-friendly campsites are. That helps one looking for their campsite among seventy other sites on the ground.
A campground cannot be turned into a jungle of concrete to be ADA-friendly. However, one that promises, any such facility should have been paved. A campsite that is not paved does not meet the ADA requirements anyway.
The soft, unpaved surface does not provide firm footing leading to injuries. And accessing the campsite would also be a problem if they were on a wheelchair or using a walker. ADA campsites should ensure that the area from the landing pad to the campsite is paved.
Another good idea is to get a heads up on the type of slopes a campsite has. Being aware of the type of slopes helps one prepare ahead of the trip.
Some slopes are rather steep. And people in wheelchairs would need something to level up the seats. Anyone on a powered wheelchair would need extra batteries also to help with the load on steep slopes.
The Right Amenities
Most campgrounds offer utilities like tennis courts and swimming pools. Having a swimming pool, tennis court, or putt-putt course make camping more enjoyable.
These utilities are useful for people with disabilities. The amenities have to be designed to fulfil their needs. A swimming pool that does not have steps leading down into the pool would not suffice for the disabled. Or not having a fishing pier would also limit people with disabilities to enjoy fishing.
Besides that, all basic amenities should meet ADA requirements. The picnic tables, level access shower, and water fountains should be designed inclusively. Either the caregiver or the disabled person should find out about the amenities.
Disabilities are not always visible. Some seemingly able individuals might also face challenges that limit their mobility. Some such health problems are epilepsy, fibromyalgia, or chronic Lyme. They might need the care to manage fatigue, monitor breathlessness, or be at fall risk.
An RV campground can cater to many needs whether the disability is visible or not. They have a proper bed, bathroom, storage space for assistive devices, and the means to reach the ER if needed.
The Right Gear
It is not enough to find campsites that are equipped with the right flooring and space for the disabled. A campsite for the disabled should also have tents with tall and wide doors. This helps rollators, wheelchairs, or walkers to get in and out easily.
Having high mattresses or beds also makes it comfortable to get on and off with ease—this way, they don’t need to exert their bodies for these basic tasks.
Purpose-Built ADA Campsites
It is an even better idea for the disabled to camp at campsites designed especially for them. There is a range of activities for the disabled at these campsites. They get the opportunity to make new friends. They are also assisted by experienced volunteers and group leaders. Anyone who needs extra help is provided with a personal helper.
Some Tips for ADA Camping
Enjoying the great outdoors is important for everyone. Great planning goes into it for all campers. For those who have disabilities, there is some extra planning required.
– Finding the right ADA-friendly campsite would be the first, most important tip.
– Getting equipment like wheelchairs that can also be taken on dirt paths.
– Carrying all the necessities. Don’t leave behind items that meet particular needs. For example, assistive devices, medicines, food, a hygiene kit, and the right garments. The right garments include clothes for the day, and the night, as well as for warm weather, or cold and damp weather.
– Charge all powered devices. This would not only include mobile phones, but flashlights, or wheelchairs also.
ADA does not exactly have a guideline for campsites. A proposal is thankfully underway. Till then, a great number of national parks and campsites are trying to become ADA compliant. ADA camping is all about inclusivity and helping the disabled feel able.