Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) In the Camp Environment

Camping and leisure activities are important for all of us, including individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This webinar will begin to identify the benefits of having children with ASD and their peers in an inclusive camp setting. We will explore how a camper with ASD might think and introduce a practical peer program called “PAWSS” to support the social interactions at camp. Strengths and challenges of serving campers with ASD will be problem solved and myths will be discarded.

Through this webinar, participants will learn:

Inclusive Camp

Have you seen the powerful 2008 documentary film, Including Samuel? It's the heartwarming and compelling story of a boy named Samuel who was born with cerebral palsy and how his family and friends work to ensure he is included in every facet of life (Habib, 2008). Samuel's dad, Dan Habib, is a talented photojournalist, and his remarkable film will inspire you to champion social inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream camp and school programs. I encourage you to watch it and share this powerful teaching tool with others.

Kids with Diabetes in the Non-Diabetes Camp Setting

I'll never forget walking into the infirmary for my week as a camp nurse and hearing one of the outgoing nurses say, "I got the kid with diabetes again. Don't worry, you don't have one this week." In my six years as a camp nurse at this non-diabetes camp, I always hoped I'd get "the kid with diabetes." That's because I happen to specialize in diabetes — and I have diabetes myself! My hope is that camp nurses and camp staff everywhere will feel comfortable including and accepting children and adolescents with diabetes in their programs, without fear or dread.

Evolving Risks — Employment Practices / Sexual Harassment / Unlawful Discrimination

In 2015, there was a sharp increase in the number of calls to the ACA Crisis Hotline about accommodation and inclusion of individuals, both staff and campers, who identify themselves as transgender, gender nonconforming, or gender variant.

A Translation of Norms

The dining hall area is filled with families playing Loteria (like Bingo except pictures are called out instead of numbers). Loteria is the Spanish word for lottery. The excitement builds with the anticipation of one of the 54 different images appearing on one’s own tabla, a board with a randomly created 4 x 4 grid of pictures with their corresponding name and picture. Players choose what tabla they want to play with and settle in for several rounds of conversation and adrenalin.

Social Justice and Camp — Talking About It

“You get all those different kids at camp, but it wasn’t there. It didn’t affect them there. There was so much love in the air. They came together, bonding, making friends, doing things they can’t do at home, and that type of thing. Seemed like it never even came up.”

How Special Needs Camping Has Impacted the Camp Experience

"Camping is an activity that has been embraced by humanity because it's fun and it brings people, especially families, together," said Dr. Tom Zellers, a professor of pediatric cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center and camp doctor. "For children with chronic illnesses, camp has often been forbidden because of the risks and physical challenges it presents. At [special needs] camps, however, children with medical problems, who are sheltered by their family and may be the only child with their type of medical problem in their family, neighborhood, or community, are brought together.

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