CAMP - A FASD Community referred to as “CAMP"
Utilize YMCA Camp Duncan
Tell us a little about your camp?
We are a camp for children ages 9- 18 affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, known as FASD. FASD is a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. Often, a person with an FASD has a mix of these problems (source https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/facts.html).
As the parent and my son a sibling of an adoptive child with FASD, it was our vision to establish a camp that serves as a support network for families and individuals affected by FASD. CAMP is supported by a strong team of clinicians and professionals. We work together to provide a safe structured environment for campers with programs specifically geared to improve their social, emotional, and cognitive development.
What are some things that unique to your camp?
Our camp is unique because all campers have FASD. They recognize there are other people like them that have “FASD” as well, campers shared with us they are able to communicate and establish friendships better at camp than outside of camp. We also have a staff trained specifically in FASD, including behavioral health professionals, medical professionals, and camp counselors. We developed a program for campers, called the “Rock Star” program. Each day campers are recognized for their contributions at camp, examples include being a good friend to another camper, doing a good job showing a good example, being positive… Each camp counselor will tell a story of the camper and award them their “rock” with an engraving, as a symbol of their good behavior.
What is a typical day like for a camper?
A typical day for a camper at our camp is like anywhere else, doing the same activities that any other camp will do. We utilize YMCA Camp Duncan for our week long camp because they have experience working first hand with a special needs population. They lead the majority of activities, while our camp counselors trained in FASD, provide additional supervision for our campers. Campers grow in self-esteem and confidence as they try new activities, they do not feel pressure to “fit in”, there is no competition, just kids having fun. There are times when campers have a difficulty adjusting to camp, but we are there with them to encourage them and listen to them, letting them know that they are very special and we care.
How many staff and campers do you host in the summer?
We hosted 27 campers this year in our second year in operation, up from 13 campers our first year.
What is the philosophy of your camp?
Our philosophy is for campers to enjoy themselves, in a safe, structured environment, while having respect for others. The benefits of attending camp are:
We understand this is sometimes the first time the camper has been away from home for an overnight stay, and the parents many times have not had a break either. So it is very important to us to be able to provide this opportunity not only for campers but for their families as well.
What are growing challenges of your camp?
Some of the growing challenges of our camp are maintaining funding and retaining staff. FASD is not well known, and it is difficult to obtain funding as there is not a high population awareness as some other conditions. We are hopeful to retain much of staff next year, but this is another challenge is maintaining staffing.
What are some things your camp does really well?
We are fortunate to partner with a great camp, YMCA Camp Duncan. Together we strive to provide the camper with a fun experience. At CAMP, we understand FASD, and are prepared to deal with the challenges and celebrate the successes. Our staff are all volunteers and they are here because they care about the campers and it shows. We do a good job allowing each camper to work to their strengths and learn to work together as a team.
How long has the camp been with ACA Illinois?
We have been working with ACA Illinois for four years. ACA Illinois assisted us in getting started if it wasn’t for Gordie we wouldn’t be where we are today. I still remember the call to Gordie at ACA Illinois, he was in 100% to help us build our camp.
How long has your camp been accredited?
We completed our first accreditation visit this summer!
Why do you choose accreditation?
It is important to us to operate at the highest standards possible. We would like to demonstrate to families, that we are serious about camping, and quality, and obtaining the accreditation, shows that our business meets the highest standards in the camping industry.
Recently while cleaning out some old camp files at home, I discovered the transparencies from my first ever speaker presentation at Mid States. In case you have no clue what I’m talking about (I’m looking at you millennials,) here’s a photo of the overhead projector:
Coming across these materials reminded me of my first time speaking at Mid States. I was so nervous; from the moment I decided to speak until I reviewed my evaluations. Yet somehow, despite my nervousness, Mid States was the perfect place to test the waters. The Mid States community is friendly and kind, just like the camp community. Having had the pleasure of working with many speakers over the years, they relate to finding a similar welcoming environment. Attendees are eager to learn, but also understand that you’re a human being. If you come prepared and focused, attendees will be open to your ideas and ready to learn.
Each camp I’ve worked with and every position I’ve held has benefited from my experience as a presenter. Speaking at a conference provides professional benefits to you AND your camp. When you present, people learn about your organization, and your camp becomes a leader in the community, which makes the camp community stronger. How, you ask? Well, think about it this way. There are two types of camp people: those that focus internally on their job at camp, tasks that contribute specifically to their individual jobs. There are also those camp people that see themselves as part of the greater camp community, the greater mission at hand. These individuals share their ideas, ask questions, generate innovations that not only help make their camp better, but help all camps become better overall. They help make camp current in the 21st century, and relevant in youth development. And perhaps most importantly, these people change the world by bettering it, making the camp community stronger. These camps, and camp people, become known for their cutting-edge innovations. This helps recruit campers and new employees in the future. There are many ways these camp people help the community, a common way is to present at conferences.
Speaking not only benefits your camp, it grows your professional skills and allows your experience to shine. The challenge of preparing a presentation and sharing your knowledge will strengthen your ability to train your staff next summer. Your supervisor will see that you have creative ideas to share. When it's time for you to take the next step in your career, more people will know who you are, and the skills you bring to whatever camp you are working with.
Finally, the greatest reason to speak is that we need new ideas. Camp is about relationships and strengthening communities. We all share the same mission: to better the world through camp. We cannot do this without constantly evaluating ourselves and how we do things. It’s vital to our survival as the camp community that we continue to ask questions, share ideas and grow. We need you to help us accomplish this. We need your ideas, your solutions.
Submitting a proposal years ago opened doors I never thought possible. I encourage you to consider submitting a presentation for this year’s Mid States. Show the camp community what you excel at! Give voice to your ideas and strengths. Be part of the larger camp world through this role and make us all stronger professionals. I believe we all have something to share. We all have gifts and strengths. What is yours? I’m excited to learn from you!
Yours in Camping,
Colette M Marquardt
American Camp Association, Illinois
Tips for the New Speaker:
Submit your Call for Proposals today by clicking here! Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACA, Inc is seeking nominations for the National Awards Program. Do you know a camp professional who has given their time and skill to make our ACA community better? Are you aware of a person who contributes to the field of camp from related professions? Read more about the different awards offered below and nominate someone you know today!
ACA National Awards Include:
Distinguished Service Award
The Distinguished Service Award is ACA’s highest award. This award honors a lifetime of service to ACA and camp.
National Honor Award
This award is for individuals who have given exemplary service to ACA; work is regional and national in scope through committees, addresses, or research.
Hedley S. Dimock Award
Awarded to individuals who contribute to the field of camp from related professions, such as outdoor education, medicine, or social sciences.
National Service Award
Given to recognize continued and increasing service to ACA beyond the local level.
Special Recognition Award
Designed to honor groups, organizations, or individuals for their efforts to promote camp.
Jack Weiner Leadership Award
This award is given annually to a young professional who is pursuing a career in camp.
Eleanor P. Eells Award
The Eleanor P. Eells Award will focus on recognizing program excellence as well as research in practice at camps.
J. Wendell and Ruth T. Howe Golden Quill & Golden Lens Awards
These awards—which are funded through a memorial established in J. Wendell and Ruth T. Howe’s name—encourage excellence in writing and photography
The Marge Scanlin Outstanding Research Award
This award recognizes one student each year for his/her research related to the camp experience.
So do you know someone or an organization/camp that fits the above descriptions? If so, make sure they get noticed by nominating them today!
Congratulations to all the camps who were accredited for 2017!
It takes a lot of preparation, coordination and well let's be honest, paper, but we are excited to share with you all the camps who completed and passed their Accreditation visit this summer!
First time Accredited Camps!
Benedictine University-Spring Break Day Camp
CAMP-A FASD Community
4-H Camp Shaw-Waw-Nas-See
Buehler YMCA Day Camp
Camp Medill McCormick
Habonim Camp Tavor
Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts
Improv Playhouse Performing Arts Camp
Irving Park YMCA Day Camp
JCYS Camp Henry Horner
JCYS Camp Red Leaf
Lake View YMCA Day Camp
Lattof YMCA Day Camp
Leaning Tower YMCA Day Camp
One in a Hundred
South Side YMCA
Timber Pointe Outdoor Center
Tri-Town YMCA Day Camp