The Broad Outcomes of a Special Camp!

As parents look to involve their special child in a summer activity that is nurturing and matches their needs and issues, (ADD/ADHD,Asperger syndrome, HFA, and/or NVLD) they also need to be mindful as they look to the outcomes – those products of the time spent away from family and friends in a skilled and professional program. Good special needs programs have, at their core, an opportunity for guided growth, social skills development and good ,old fashioned fun amidst friends. Summit campers and travelers would also find a number of those qualities named by author Paul Tough in his book  "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character."

In an article recently published in the March/April 2013 issue of Camping Magazine, the journal of the American Camp Association, he notes that camps are able to offer kids unique learning environments. He highlights a set of skills that "matter a whole lot in a child's success. These skills are grit, curiosity, perseverance, conscientiousness, and optimism."  He goes on to say "I think the idea that these skills matter resonates with parents and educators on a deep level. They know it from their own lives. They see it in their own kids. So they're eager to accept this idea and embrace this idea when it is presented to them as something that really matters." We feel camps like Summit, who serve a special needs camper community, are even more strongly able by design to provide these skills.

Summit becomes that place where kids can test their abilities and skills – from swimming to go-kart driving to an intense game of chess or even the creation of a name plate in ceramics. As Tough notes, camp becomes a place where there is autonomy as well as support. He goes on to say "when camps get it right and convey to kids that they are supported and they're safe, but also that they can do things they never dreamed they could do, it becomes a transformative experience. Camp is a place where kids can finally get that important message."

So often Summit talks about our "Magic on the Hill." It is that intangible where campers make friends, find success, find their own voice, and are at peace with who they are. We also know that so many of our campers leave us strengthened in their abilities to cope with their own worlds – life at home and at school.

A component of this growth comes from what we have called safe failure – a time when our campers know that they will not be put down for a non-success. Even more, they are applauded for their attempt and effort and encouraged to try again – by both their counselors and their campmates. Tough concurs and says "they need to learn how to fail in a productive way – that failures are real and we do not win in every game, but that failures are not a disaster. Instead, they are often important stepping stones on the path to success... They learn how to bounce back and see that there's a way to do better next time." 

Our camper families often concur. One of our parents recently shared "We should probably begin by letting you know that Mia spent her lifetime up until last year asserting that she did not feel confident enough to go to sleep-away camp. Last summer, however, the mother of one of Mia's classmates told us that her daughter would be attending Summit Camp.  Mia warily agreed to go to Summit because she knew someone who would be there.  When Mia stepped off the bus at the end of camp, the first thing she said to us was, "Next year I'm going back!"  You can imagine our delight at hearing such a confident announcement. The daughter who completed her two weeks at your camp returned to us as a newly confident teenager, proud of her accomplishments and wanting to challenge herself next (now this) year. It's absolutely clear that the Summit experience has been a turning point in Mia's life."

Tough goes on to say they learn "failure is not the end of the world. Only after knowing this will they go out into the world….and not be completely derailed by setbacks."  Summit is the place for them to practice all of this and more!

Summit Camp provides a summer sleep away camp experience for boys and girls, ages 8-19, who have issues of attention. These may include Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD and/or ADHD), Asperger’s syndrome, awkward social skills, High Functioning Autism, verbal or non-verbal learning disabilities (NVLD), and/or mild social or emotional concerns. Some of our campers may also have Tourette’s syndrome, and/or mild mood issues. Summit Travel works with older children, ages 15-19, who have similar issues. Their opportunities are more worldly and mature based on their changing needs and expectations. The Weekender program offers school year weekends designed to foster peer relationships and enhance social skills. Travel Club provides extended excursions to exciting destinations during school holidays.