Camp Akeela campers are boys and girls completing grades 3-10 who are excited about a traditional camp experience that supports their social growth. Parents and teachers describe them as bright, kind, creative and well-behaved. They have above average intelligence and are typically academically successful in mainstream school settings, although may receive extra help with executive functioning skills, social pragmatics, or other social deficits.
Our campers genuinely enjoy interacting with peers, but often struggle to make deeper, more meaningful social connections. They may need practice and guidance in reading non-verbal cues, exhibiting conversational empathy, or understanding social nuances. Families often report that, without facilitation, their children tend to socialize more easily with younger kids or adults.
Asperger’s, autism spectrum (ASD) and Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NLD)
Many of our campers have a diagnosis of Asperger’s or a similar ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) profile. Others may have ADD/ADHD or a social-based learning difference such as NLD. While not all campers have a diagnosis, they all share a desire to be part of a community that “gets” them and where they can meet friends with similar outlooks and experiences.
Akeela campers typically do best when they:
- Know what to expect going into an activity or event
- Get a written or verbal preview of transitions ahead of time
- Socialize in a structured environment with established expectations
- Are given step-by-step instructions to support their executive functioning
- Have a trusted adult/mentor they can go to when they have a question, concern, or are upset
Successful Akeela campers must be able to:
- Live cooperatively in a cabin with 5 – 8 other campers and 4 counselors
- Independently manage acts of daily living, with some staff prompting, as needed
- Engage in reciprocal conversations with peers and staff members with the understanding that staff are available to help facilitate more robust conversations. (All of our campers are extremely verbally fluent!)
- Utilize coping skills to manage social anxiety and other mental health challenges without the presence or support of a therapist or psychologist
- Adhere to a structured daily schedule including staying quietly in bed until 7:30am and not being disruptive at bedtimes.
Akeela campers DO NOT exhibit the following behaviors, nor can our staff provide a successful experience to children and teens who:
- Have behavioral outbursts or meltdowns
- Have a history of physical or verbal aggression
- Are oppositional and/or defiant or refuse to participate in less preferred activities
- Require one-to-one behavioral support or consistent prompting to stay on task during activities or in class
- Have a history of wandering or running away from a group
- Have a recent history of psychiatric hospitalization, suicidality or self-harm
We love partnering with families to mutually assess if Akeela is the right fit for their child. It is the most important part of our jobs! Although our first-time campers are often unsure about coming to Akeela, after the application process is complete, they are ready to be at camp for the session. The best first step to help us get to know your family is to review our application process and complete our Inquiry Form.