Top 5 Resources for Parents of Children with Asperger's, NLD and High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: Raising a child with Asperger’s, NLD, and/or high functioning autism spectrum disorder is very challenging. As the directors of Camp Akeela in Vermont and Wisconsin, we find that parents of these special needs children have demands on their time, energy, and emotions that go well beyond what many of their peers face. The good news is that there are now many high-quality resources available to parents to help give their children the support and guidance they need. Below is a list of several resources we have found particularly useful.
Kids Share Why Camp is Great: Ask parents about the benefits of a children’s summer camp program and you can pretty much guarantee that those who have either attended camp themselves or whose children return to the same camp each year will wax poetic about the experience.
We spoke with kids and teens who say camp isn’t just a place—it’s a second home and an experience that doles out important life lessons they continue to use long after their camp’s closing ceremonies.
"...Most of all, I am happy to have time to play outdoors with my summer friends. I even ride on the 4th of July float with fellow Felix Neck campers!” —Abigail, 7½, Massachusetts
"I attended Brown Ledge Camp in Colchester, VT. My camp experience was unlike any I had ever had before." —Rebecca P., 17, New Jersey
"I went to Windsor Mountain International in New Hampshire from seventh grade until junior year of high school. The camp is known for hosting a large number of campers who come from all over the world. Having camp friends is a very unique experience because you find people are really different at camp than they are in the actual world." —Seamus, 20, New Hampshire
MOMS Club of Easton raises $5K at Winter Carnival: Children sported face paint of their favorite characters and toted along balloon creations as they bounced in inflatable playgrounds, danced along to music and navigated a gymnastics course at Maplewood Country Day Camp. Maplewood Country Day Camp has served as the venue for Winter Carnival for many years.
"We enjoy working with the MOMS Club," said Lee Pinstein, Maplewood director. "It's a great fit for Maplewood."
Kids Raise Money to Help those with Disabilities Attend Camp: Some kids do not have the opportunity to go to camp and to help them have that opportunity, some kids in Hermon are teaming up to raise money. Making something as little such as a penny, count. Whether they are in preschool or in middle school, kids are learning at a young age the importance of helping their neighbor.
"We know it's for a good cause," said Luke Sherman, a 7th grade student at Hermon Middle School, "We know we are going to do things with the snowmobilers and that it's for those with special needs."
The Q106.5 Snowmobile Ride-In benefits the Pine Tree Camp.
"Our classes both mornings and afternoon collected pennies to help fill buckets and help kids with disabilities go to summer camp," said Cathy Thompson, a preschool teacher.
Picking the Right Summer Camp: With the wide variety of camps on or near the shoreline, choosing one isn't easy. But all those choices also mean that you can probably find a camp that is perfect for your child. There are many factors to take into account...
"They get to choose and select the activities they would most like to do while they're here," says Laurie Bouchard, office manager at Camp Hazen. "We have a radio station here that they can get involved in. There's sand art and camp jewelry and tie-dye and all sorts of creative arts."
Incarnation Camp, located on more than 700 acres with a mile-long lake in Ivoryton, is the longest-running coed camp in the nation.
"Anything you think of going on in a summer camp we're usually doing," says Nia Orellana, the camp's program coordinator. "Our overnight camp is the traditional American overnight experience. We sleep in tents with four bunk beds in them—that's one really big selling point. Our shortest sessions that we offer are two weeks, which is very highly recommended if it's your first overnight camp."
Integrating, Including, Celebrating and Needing All Types of Campers: Last March, I attended the Foundation for Jewish Camp conference on Inclusion and had the privilege of hearing Pamela Schuller speak. Her story hit me hard: isolated from the Jewish community because of a disability that wasn’t understood and ultimately feeling a sense of belonging because of positive experiences at a Jewish overnight camp. Pamela’s message was clear: Inclusion should be about celebrating the individual while still accommodating their needs. As I went into my first summer as inclusion coordinator at Camp Yavneh, I wondered if her message could truly be implemented in today’s Jewish camps.
As summer quickly approached I thought about Pamela’s words of “celebrating while still accommodating” the individual. I wanted the campers to feel that they were integrated, included, celebrated and needed at Camp Yavneh.
Winter Camp Unites Families of Hemophilia: The Hemophilia Alliance of Maine and the New England Hemophilia Association put on a weekend of winter activities at Camp Mechwuana, including snowshoeing and ice fishing. This is the first year of this camp. Kids from Massachusetts, Connecticut, The two organizations have hosted a similar summer program in the past.
Hemophilia is a disorder that can make it difficult for blood to clot, or can cause a patient to bleed excessively when injured. The disorder is hereditary.
"We're really trying to find connections with other opportunities outside of our community," said Packard. "There are so many layers of the challenges that you face. Finding ways to connect with the community is super important."
Here's How Summer Camps Welcome Their Youngest Charges: “You have to know your child and what they can handle,” she said, adding that “some parents with kids who have trouble separating find camp even more helpful at a younger age because it builds independence.”
Luckily, most Jewish summer camps pay close attention to easing their youngest kids into the sleepaway experience. From pre-camp meet-and-greets to special presents for first-time campers to the common availability of ultra-short sessions — anywhere from five to 11 days — camps are acutely aware of the need to gently transition their littlest and newest campers into the culture of overnight camp...
At Camp Modin, a pluralistic sleepaway camp in Maine, and the oldest Jewish camp in New England, the youngest campers are 8, or going into third grade.
Here's Why You Should Send Your Kid to an Arts Camp This Summer: Arts camps can deliver more subtle benefits, too. “Camps encourage the kind of collaboration, innovation, and problem solving that you don’t get in school anymore,” says Bette Bussel, executive director of the American Camp Association’s New England.
Accredited ACA New England Camps listed in this article include: Beam Camp, Camp Med-O-Lark, Buck's Rock Performing & Creative Arts Camp, and Beaver Summer Camp.
Adventure Day at Becket YMCA Camp Gives Vets a Day of Fun with Their Families: The swing at Chimney Corners is located on the top of the 100-foot-high alpine tower.
"It's pretty high up there," said 10-year-old Gabrielle Mora of Worcester, who climbed the 100-foot tower and went on the swing. "But it was a lot of fun."
Gabrielle and her younger brother, 8-year-old Matthew, were among 50 or so participants Saturday in Berkshire County's first "Adventure Day," designed to provide bonding opportunities for military veterans and their families.
The CONNsumer: Find the Right Summer Camp: “My advice for parents looking for a camp is that they should do their research,” says Keith Garbart, president of the Connecticut Camping Association, a nonprofit that advocates good camping practices in the state.
Camp Horizons in Windham is one of 17 camps — of all types — for people with developmental disabilities. Camp Horizons accepts campers from ages 8 to 39, with those 40 and over eligible for the camp’s masters program.
“There’s a camp for everyone,” says Garbart. “It’s just a matter of finding the right fit.”
Concord’s YMCA Camp Spaulding Receives Accredited Camp Status: CONCORD, NH — The American Camp Association, New England (ACA New England) is pleased to announce the accreditation of YMCA Camp Spaulding. ACA Accreditation is a mark of distinction from the only national nonprofit organization accrediting camps in the United States.
ACA New England executive director Bette Bussel said, “Administering the ACA accreditation program in New England is a key way that our organization supports campers, camp seekers, parents and camp professionals. YMCA Camp Spaulding went through a comprehensive and thorough review to achieve their status and we are pleased and proud to announce their accreditation.”
Photos: Hulbert Outdoor Center Fun in Fairlee: At the Hulbert Outdoor Center’s annual New Year’s Week Family Camp participants play a game of indoor scoccer in the barn in Failrlee, Vt., on Dec. 30, 2016. In play with the ball are Daniel Caramanica,11, of New York City, Will Knowles,9, of Fairlee, and Christian Sandoe,9, of Marblehead, Mass.
After coming in from sledding, Christian Sandoe, 9, watches his father Andrew and brother Sebastian,7, play chess at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vt., on Dec. 30, 2016. The family lives in Marblehead, Mass. Andrew grew up in Hanover went to the camp as a kid in the summer then became a camp counselor. The family has been attending the Hulbert Outdoor Center’s annual New Year’s Week Family Camp for four years.
New JORI director believes in the magic of Jewish summer camps: Ricky Kodner is a camp guy. He believes there’s no better place for a Jewish kid in the summer than at a Jewish camp. “Every kid should be going to summer camp,” he says. “Every Jewish leader I know went to camp, was a counselor or was some kind of administrator at camp. Camp just gives kids so much confidence. I just love camp.”
That’s a good thing for the Camp JORI community.
Kodner is the new director of Camp JORI, in Wakefield. The St. Louis native has been on the job since mid-November. Right now, he’s meeting community members and talking to JORI camp families, staff and alums about this coming summer.
Teams announced for 12th annual YMCA Sloper Plunge: SOUTHINGTON — Mark Pooler, director of operations at the Southington Community YMCA, recently announced the teams for the 12th Annual YMCA Sloper Plunge.
The Sloper Plunge, formerly the YMCA Polar Plunge, will take place Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. at YMCA Camp Sloper at 1000 East St. All funds from this event will provide financial assistance to help send children and teens to YMCA Camp Sloper for this summer for a meaningful day-camp experience.
Pooler is excited about this year’s line-up and expects to have a successful event that raises money for camp scholarships.
“It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, other than summer camp,” he said. “This event has become a community staple and tons of volunteers and donors rally together to help kids. What is better than that?”
Mass Audubon promotes three at local nature sanctuaries: Three veteran staff members as Mass Audubon’s Broad Meadow Brook and Wachusett Meadow wildlife sanctuaries have been promoted by Central Region Sanctuaries Director Deb Cary.
Lisa Carlin has been named Assistant Sanctuary Director at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. Cindy Dunn has been named Assistant Sanctuary Director at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton, and Lisa Mattson has been promoted to Administrative Operations Manager for both sanctuaries as well as the Central/ West Property Office.
The collective tenures of the three women represent more than a half-century of service to Mass Audubon and its thousands of members and others visitors who connect with nature at these wildlife sanctuaries.
History Space: Boys and girls camps of Malletts Bay: It will come as no surprise that Colchester has been home to a multitude of summer camps over the years and, while many have closed, some still remain. With 27 miles of shoreline on Lake Champlain, summer camps —whether a small, private summer home, fondly called “our camp” by locals — or a non-, or for-profit camp for youngsters, it was inevitable that Colchester would become a hub of summer activity for campers of all ages.
Camp Kiniya: On these shores of the Great Back Bay of Lake Champlain facing the Adirondacks now lies Camp Kiniya. With 150 acres and one mile of waterfront, it is nestled where the Lamoille River empties into the lake, at the very end of Camp Kiniya Road.
Brown Ledge Camp: Of those just mentioned, the oldest is Brown Ledge Camp that is still in existence today. In 1996, in an article for the Colchester News Magazine, then camp director Bill Neilsen, said the camp started on leased land from the Malletts Bay Club and operated for eight or nine years as the Champlain Camp for boys
Evoke Summer Camp Nostalgia with Maggie Rogers' "Dog Years" Video: Internet sensation Maggie Rogers has shared the second installment in her trilogy of videos directed by Zia Anger. The first was her “Alaska” video, which you can (and should) watch here.
Southington teen raises money for YMCA Camp Sloper: Several fortunate children will have the opportunity to attend YMCA Camp Sloper this summer thanks to a donation to the Sloper Scholarship Fund spearheaded by Holy Cross High School senior Leanne Raymond.
For the past several years, Raymond has asked her friends, families, and local businesses to make donations to the YMCA’s Sloper Scholarship Fund in honor of the young victims of Sandy Hook.
According to a press release, her hope in starting this campaign was to give a summer camp experience to those who can’t afford one. She did the project in memory of the children lost during the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Students Planted Giant Flip Books in a New Hampshire Forest: Monumental flip books, super-sized odes to one of animation's oldest technologies, sprouted up in an ethereal New Hampshire forest over the summer thanks to an unexpected union between London architects and a troupe of New York City public school kids. UK firm The Mobile Studio designed five massive flip books, which they call Universal Play Machines, for kids from a summer program called Beam Camp to assemble. The 10-17-year-olds built the mechanisms, based on the split-flap displays found in old airports and train stations, then drew nature-inspired animations that come to life in the human-sized contraptions. "As far as we know, these are the world’s largest mechanical flipbooks ever made!" The Mobile Studio says.
At Hazen, Camp is Not Just for Summer: “Holiday Vacation Days have been offered for many years, I remember going to them myself as a camper,” said Alex Learned, senior program director at Hazen. “Mainly it’s something we do as a service to parents.”
The Vacation Days camp programming is offered throughout the year in accordance with the holiday schedules of local schools.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., attendees will follow a schedule similar to that of a normal camp day, including sports, crafts, and adventure activities.
“We like to add a cooking element during the winter programming,” said Learned. “This time, kids will have the chance to make individual apple pies, and do individual pizzas on a couple of these days. The crafts we have planned include making baskets, candles, and clay ornaments.”
When exploring camp options, what you don’t see can be just as important as what you DO see.
When you think about summer camp, the word “invisible” doesn’t exactly jump to mind. But for those adults without a camp background of their own who are setting out to find the right camp for a child they love, there are very important things to think about, find out about, and talk about that might not be immediately apparent. This post is for you and it’s meant to be read in conjunction with ACA New England’s camp search advice.
Guest blog from Kristine Millard, Bangor Daily News Camp Blogger
This post appeared 11/9/16 as the inaugural BDN Summer in Maine: kids, camps, and community post.
Teamwork. Communication. Collaboration. Responsibility. All buzzwords for a good resume. And though the work may take place under the summer sun, camp administrators say camp counselors do it all. Being a counselor is supposed to be fun, and counselors may wear shorts and flip-flops, but their roles and responsibilities really do set them apart.
Just ask Catriona Sangster, director of Camp Wawenock, a girls’ camp in Raymond, and current board president of Maine Summer Camps, a membership organization serving more than 100 Maine camps.
“It offers young people the opportunity to take on real leadership and meaningful roles,” says Sangster. Those roles vary, she says, but they all teach “the nuances of how to approach different people, different styles of learners and different cultures.”
“Counselors make a difference every moment of every day,” Sangster says.
Campers Have Been Raising Camp Champions Funds to Give the Gift of Camp to Children in Need.
With our 6th Camp Champions Celebration around the corner, today we’d like to highlight some of our favorite philanthropists -- the children who have been busy raising funds so that children in need have the chance to experience summer camp. Yes, that’s right. Some of the funds raised for Camp Champions are generated come from campers’ effort and initiatives. Who knows better how great it is to attend camp in New England than campers in New England?
They were swimming in swimathons. They were baking, marketing and selling cookies at bake sales.They were engaged in many, many other entrepreneurial activities. The upshot: hundreds of children were willing to work hard to raise the funds that will make summer camp a possibility for a child who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to attend a day or overnight camp!
There’s been an intensified focus lately on the part of educators, future employers and parents on the value of the “soft skills” that summer camp experiences teach and foster. We have been thrilled to link, post and tweet article after article explaining the importance of: social/emotional learning, particularly kindness and empathy; the 21st century learning and innovation skills of creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration; and the enormous and far-reaching benefits of living, working and playing as an individual who has a responsibility to a group—especially as leadership, decision-making, and conflict resolution skills emerge and grow. In the unique environment we call summer camp, young people are constantly learning--experientially, informally, and through carefully prepared lesson plans in a more formal way. What a camper learns is influenced by the camp’s philosophy, program, and personnel. It is significantly influenced by the other campers, too. Whether a camp is day or overnight, general or specialty, traditional or non-traditional, small or large, or in a CT, MA. ME, NH, RI or VT location, it shares at least one thing with other camps:
Special-needs summer camp an eye-opening experience: I had time in between jobs this summer and, because I have always loved working with Ramah’s Tikvah program for special-needs campers, I felt it would be a great way to spend the summer. I knew it would be fun and lots of work, but I never could have imagined what a strong impact it would have on me as an individual, mother and professional. I did not anticipate how deeply connected I would become with each of these incredible young adults and just how much of an impact this program has on the participants, their families and the camp community as a whole.
From the first day when the gates opened to the last day, when our building once again became just an empty space, our Voc-Ed family shared many incredible moments. For most of our participants, camp was familiar, but for others, this was their first experience at Ramah Palmer.
These 19 Institutions Are the Ivy League of Summer Camps: Singalongs and s'mores by the campfire, morning Reveille, sneaking around the lake to gawk at the girls or boys in the sister/brother camp: the rituals of summer sleep-away camp are beloved and time honored. Like university, there are endless options—but for a certain set, there are really only a few: the Ivy League of summer camps.
Frequently located in Maine, many of the top camps have been around for close to a century, offering kids approximately seven to 16 years old a few weeks of summer fun, sun, and exertion. While the camps of yore focused on the basics—canoeing, archery, ceramics, hiking—more elite camps have changed with the times. Now, it's not uncommon to find gluten-free kitchens, full fitness centers offering spinning and Pilates, and university-quality sports fields—in addition, of course, to all the old standbys.
Camp Susan Curtis provides lifetime lessons: For Dakota Warren, 20, of Buckfield, the camp means even more. She was at Camp Susan Curtis as a 12-year-old when she received some wonderful news.
“I started here when I was 8. My home situation was not super great,” said Warren, now the aquatics director at Camp Susan Curtis. “I went into a foster home when I was in fifth grade. I was in two different foster homes. I remember I was at the (camp’s) baseball field when I was told my foster family wanted to adopt me. I was excited that the mom I came home to, I could now call mom.”
The summer camp at the foothills of the western Maine mountains provides two weeks of outdoor activity for 500 Maine young people each summer. But it’s much more than a place that offers swimming, canoeing, fishing and camp songs. For more than 40 years, it has provided free educational programs to help disadvantaged youth gain confidence and the skills necessary to aspire to successful careers.
YMCA's outdoor camp expands with help of Blue Cross Blue Shield: It was the sixth annual Service Day for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and an estimated 3,000 employees across the state were out in their communities, helping nonprofits all day. At the YMCA, volunteers gave their time and energy for six different projects on the grounds.
By the end of the day, the Y had two new fire-pits, scraped and repainted picnic tables, a safety fence around the archery field, a storybook trail, two new gardens and a redesigned and restored lunch area.
Shannon Donovan-Monti, an ACA New England board member, recently shared this article from NPR’s website on why society judges parents for putting children at perceived (but unreal) risk. It’s well worth the read. Camp is mentioned, of course; it’s near impossible to discuss optimal childhood experiences and not refer to camp!
Child development experts whose advice articles for parents appear in the popular press have been sounding off lately about the negative consequences of parenting approaches now called “helicopter-,” “snowplow-,” and “over-“ parenting. Hovering, clearing the way by sweeping aside everything and everyone in the path, and denying children the opportunity to fail are big no-no’s for parents today. Jessica Lahey’s The Gift of Failure, Julie Lythcott-Haims’ How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, and several other books have joined Wendy Mogul’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee on the nightstands, Kindles, and bookshelves of parents of children ages birth to 18. What many people may not realize is that camp professionals have been reading the same books and articles. They have also had the chance to hear these three parenting experts present at professional conferences for camp pros. Their staff training is infused with the concepts, words of wisdom and takeaways from Lahey, Lythcott-Haims and Mogul, among others. And that’s the point. Camp was invented here in New England 150 years ago as a partner of families and schools—a partner in child-rearing. Camps were positioned then, as they are today, to enhance what parents and schools are doing.
Best Kind of Summer: Wolfeboro, N.H., on the northeast side of this huge lake, is the oldest summer resort town in the U.S. There are several others, each of which has its own attractions. Of course, our little town isn’t exactly a resort, but we do have a good number of people who come to spend time at family cottages or rental properties.
We also have two of the state’s finest summer “camps” in the Medomak Family Camp and Camp Med-o-Lark. Both of these internationally known organizations evolved out of a summer camp for boys established over 100 years ago. Each has a distinctive program and patronage described fully on its website. When you have a moment, check them out. They are two worlds within our world that, like Brigadoon, magically come and go every year.
Talent Show Wraps Summer at Boys and Girls Club: About 200 kids attended this summer’s program, according to Eleanor Acton, Development Director Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick. ...some of the performance-oriented campers, ages ranging from 6-years-old to 13-years-old, demonstrated their talents in the end-of-summer show.
Readfield Native Reveals History of Camps, Resorts on Area Lakes: As a Readfield native, Dale Potter-Clark grew up watching busloads of summer campers ride through the area headed to the various lakes. Her mother, Readfield historian Evelyn Potter, watched a similar scene as campers arrived via rail at the Readfield Depot.
She and co-author Charles L. Day Jr. chronicle the history of growth and development of the camps and resorts along the northern end of Maranacook and on Echo, Lovejoy and Torsey lakes.
Ties that Bind: Camp Takodah Celebrates 100 Years: When Tom Dill was 9 years old, he kicked and screamed when his grandparents dropped him off for the first time at Camp Takodah. Two weeks later, when they went back to pick him up, Tom threw a fit because he didn’t want to leave. Now, 35 years later, Dill is back at camp, all the way from Littleton, Colo., to celebrate Camp Takodah’s centennial celebration with fellow Takodians.
Generations of campers gather this weekend at the Richmond camp to pick up right where they left off all of those years ago. And although the camp is a little bigger and songs are sung a little differently, the message remains the same: “Friendly to all.”
A Chain of Enduring Memories, These Camp Patches Stand the Test of Time: They’re soft, made of felt, triangular. Some of them are white, others are bordered in red and blue — all are numbered, rising in succession one by one.
Individually they appear as inverse pyramids; pinned together they form a chain, hanging on the wall above my bed.
To visitors of my room, the 5-foot long string of fabric is an oddity, at worst an exercise in cult symbolism, at best an art project gone awry. But to me, and to thousands of others, they’re cherished artifacts: invaluable emblems of childhood that can’t be replaced.
These are “CT”s, numbered patches that, in a unique way, mark the passing of time. Each year, kids and adults attending YMCA Camp Takodah in Richmond receive one at the end of their stay, along with a safety pin and a nudge to come back next year.
"We just sat under the tent and played cards until the sun came out," Rebelo said. "All the sunny days this summer allowed me to do some of my favorite activities."
Jayden Lockhart, 13, of Attleboro was at Camp Ramsbottom, too, playing basketball and soccer.
"The sunshine made my summer more enjoyable. We never really had to take shelter from the rain," he said. "The rain really takes away from what we want to do."
Seeds of Peace Shifts Focus to Unrest in U.S.: A pilot program at Seeds of Peace summer camp came at the exact right time to deal with unrest in the United States this summer.
The program has already been used in Maine for the last 16 years, but this year the camp decided to hold a week long session with students from Maine, Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. The second year campers participate in closed dialogue sessions every day for 110 minutes where they discuss a wide range of issues facing the country.
"It helps you to understand like different perspectives about different people and also it helps you to like know about yourself more," said second year camper Amy Umutoni.
National Elks Leader to Visit Derry-Salem Lodge: “Summer camp is a wonderful experience, but the children who need it most (often) can’t do it,” said Peter Christnacht, the executive director of the camp, by phone, describing the importance of the camp’s work.
“For a lot of the children it’s a life-changing experience,” he added.
The Copper Cannon Camp provides a “completely free traditional summer camp experience to all children who deserve it,” according to its website, helping children on reduced-price lunches or other forms of support.
Each year the Derry-Salem Lodge raises funds for the cost of sending a bus of kids up and back to the sleep-away camp, which is a big help, according to Christnacht. That, in addition to recruiting the kids from the community who would benefit most from the camp.