Today Autism Speaks announced the recipients of the 2015 Baker Summer Camp grant program! This Your Dollars @ Work from a 2014 recipient talks about the impact Camp Lily had on one special camper. Camp Lily also received scholarship funding in this round. The post is by Aly Kerwin, Director of Community Engagement, Easter Seals Florida, Inc.
Camp Lily is a day camp for children with autism operated by Easter Seals in Fort Myers, Florida. Thanks to the Baker Summer Camp program, nine campers were provided with the opportunity to attend camp in 2014.
Campers like BJ…
Benjamin Jack (BJ) has autism and attended Camp Lily for the first time in 2014. He had some reservations at first because it was a new environment, and he didn’t know anyone but his mom thought that it might be a good fit for him. BJ’s intense behaviors were interfering with his learning, and he needed a smaller environment that provided new experiences, and more individualized attention.
In just a few weeks, BJ had made significant progress. At Camp Lily counselors designed a fun program for him using positive reinforcement, praise and redirection. He participated in a number of fun activities including swimming, bowling, art and his favorite, a treasure hunt. Through all of this play, counselors noticed that his old behaviors began to decrease, and BJ was learning how to communicate appropriately.
For the first time, he was smiling, interacting with others and making friends. BJ did so well at summer camp, that his family made the decision to enroll him at the Lily Academy for the school year. BJ continues to improve each day, and has learned to ask for a break when needed, ask or extra time on projects when he is struggling, and explain his wants and needs. BJ enjoys his programs during the school year, but is looking forward to another fun summer at Camp Lily; where he is known as the “big brother” because he is always looking out for his classmates.
Camp Lily caters to the individual needs of each camper, and provides low camper to counselor ratios. These services are very costly, and the Baker Summer Camp program helps keep our program affordable for families who want their child to enjoy a true summer camp experience. On behalf of the campers, counselors and families that Easter Seals’ Camp Lily serves, thank you Autism Speaks for your continued support!