Monday, April 18, 2011

Overnight Camp for Asperger's and NLD Teens and Young Adults

It's time to sign up for summer camps! Summer is a great chance for special needs kids and teens to wind down, relax and have some time to themselves. But, it's also a chance for them to catch up on social and emotional skills. Summer camps are a great way to do that.

I was excited to hear about the camp at Twenty Acre Wood Retreat. This residential camp program in the Truckee/Tahoe area is for teens and young adults age 13 and up, especially transitioning older teens, with Asperger's and NLD (Nonverbal Learning Disorder). Older campers can participate in a Counselor in Training program. I'm talking today with camp founder Dr. Meg Fields.

PR: Meg, Thanks for talking with me about the camp. Can you tell me a bit about what your program offers?

MF:  Yes, Thank you.  Our retreat is a fabulous, small group experience for youth with Aspergers/NLD to grow and thrive in the beautiful outdoors.  We have a fabulous mountain retreat, beautiful and elegant and we go backpacking, the best of both worlds.  We take full advantage of the opportunities the Tahoe-Truckee area offers:  boating, hiking, climbing, white water rafting, games, campfires, art, music, camp stuff that is really fun (and carefully geared to our population, moderate, self esteem building levels not scary or overwhelming).

Our staff is a very interesting group of trained individuals who are thinking about creating a safe environment, safe enough that individual may begin to trust and discover more “internal space” for trying new experiences and taking in the possibilities for themselves.  We have many great role models on our staff.


PR: What campers are best suited to your program?

MF: Campers who are wanting to develop new aspects of themselves (possibly unknown to themselves, not yet named). Youth who have desires for more but aren’t sure how to move in those directions.  Youth who just want to play and have fun are welcome!!  But most of our campers have deep important wants that they aren’t quite sure how to accomplish; we want to help them stretch (a bit at a time).


PR: What skills do you expect campers to come away from camp with?

MF: Backpacking and bonding is an amazing unusual and rewarding experience.  I expect they will feel proud and accomplished and I know they will feel very acknowledged for who they are and what they contributed, whatever their special attribute may be.  People need acknowledgment and appreciation.

PR: What about campers who have never been away from family before?

MF:If you’ve never been away you may feel homesick.  It won’t surprise us and “transitional objects” we understand (things that may help with the difficulty of not having your regular support available).  We have worked with individuals who feel sadness and fear, that’s what we do.  (It is helpful if parents don’t begin by saying “if you don’t like it you can come home”).  Let us do our work and we will call if we need home support, we don’t want a traumatized camper, we will intervene as needed.  We believe it is a big experience and we honor it as such.

PR:Meg, thanks for sharing for about the camp! To sign your camper up, please visit the website at http://www.aspergersretreat.com/