It’s hard to believe that summer has come and gone. When we started hearing about the coronavirus, we were confident that “they” would have it all figured out well before camp was scheduled to start. It seems like ages ago we were on bi-weekly calls with our colleagues discussing PPE and testing. In reality, it’s been about six months. Our two daughters started school virtually and we’re working remotely with our year-round team, working hard on planning for the 2021 camp season. Managing work and school plus all of our other responsibilities like grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning the house, commitments to organizations has been challenging. While this was all novel in the spring, it’s now become tedious, tiresome and frightening – as we’re sure it has for many of you.
For our campers (many of whom have a diagnosis of ASD or NVLD), knowing what to expect ahead of time is very helpful and often an important tool in managing their anxiety. So much about today’s world makes it impossible to have that security of knowing what to expect. I often think about what I can do to help our daughters (and ourselves, frankly) feel safer. What can we do to help our children – especially autistic children and those with Aspergers Syndrome – feel more in control and have more agency during these uncertain times? Here are some suggestions:
- Encouragement: Have your camper come up with an activity (outside of school) that will enable them to interact with other kids through a shared interest. This might have to be virtual for now but could evolve into an in-person activity in the near future. For example: learning a new instrument, exploring a new hobby (a craft project like learning how to sew a quilt or clothing), or joining a virtual game of Dungeons & Dragons.
- Schedules: Create a family schedule for the weekends when everyone can pitch in. Perhaps one morning is set aside for everyone to help clean your living space. This gives you an opportunity to teach your children valuable life skills and also provides some help with tasks that need to get accomplished anyway!
- Family Meal Planning: Have a family meeting to figure out meals for the week. Can you ask your camper to prepare their own lunches? (This can be done the night before on school days or can be left on a shelf in the fridge with a piece of tape with his/her name so they know what’s been set aside.) Perhaps campers can help make a grocery list and learn how to help prepare meals. Many of our campers love to cook or bake and this might be a great time to help them develop this skill.
- Get Outside: Encourage campers to get outside. Walking the dog — for a set minimum amount of time — is a great daily activity for our ASD and NVLD campers. One of our Family Campers this summer told us that his son has to walk the dog for an hour before returning home! No pets? Campers can put on a mask and bike, scooter, walk in the neighborhood/city with a sibling or friend. When it’s raining, campers can still go out for a walk or can make use of any covered outdoor space.
- Look Forward: Finally, having something to look forward to is always helpful. We’re counting down the days until Akeela 2021. Perhaps your camper wants to take a calendar (or print one from the computer) and start tracking the days until he/she will be with us at camp!
– Eric and Debbie Sasson
Your Camp Akeela Directors
In case you hadn’t heard, our dates for summer 2021:
- 1st Session: Saturday June 26th – Monday, July 19th
- 2nd Session: Thursday, July 22nd – Saturday, August 14th
If you’re the parent of a child with autism, asperger’s, another nvld or who is otherwise quirky, find out how to apply for camp next year or reach out to our staff today!