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Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC

by Take 2: An Innovative Program for Social Learning
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC
Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC

It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago, we were in the full swing of camp. This past July, we blazed through our 14th year of Take2, soaking up as much fun, friendship, and social skills as we could muster before our mid-summer month came to an end. In many ways, camp reminded me of years past: we committed to incorporating water to our outdoor games whenever possible, we shared stories at morning meeting, we learned how to navigate the bustling (and often unpredictable) streets/trains/buses of dc, we turned unpredictability into positive opportunities to discover something new. But in other ways, this year was different from past camp years. We were fortunate to have talented musicians among the group who helped start the new tradition of singing (and dancing to) camp songs at morning meeting. This would inevitably turn into requests for pop and Disney songs, and then dancing, and then “one more song!” and we almost always obliged.  Our middle school campers were introduced to a gamified spin on their excursion and executive function-centered camp. Campers were challenged to think about team and problem solving goals to earn experience points (XP), which they could redeem for fun bonuses out in the community or back at camp. It didn’t take long for campers to figure out that working together to share the experience positively was almost always more “profitable,” as one camper put it, than the alternative.  Yet another addition to Take2 this summer was our panel of young adults with autism at our annual seminar. We brought together camper parents, families, educators and staff to hear from counselors from our Take2 team share their experiences as adults on the spectrum. 
With each summer that passes, I feel increasingly fortunate to be a part of this group. At Take2, no matter how old you are, how shy you are, how much you like pikachu, or even how many new games you introduce to the curriculum, you always feel that same warm connection to the people around you. Even though it was months ago, you remember this connection and how it made you grow in some way. As the director, my experience is different from that of the campers. After all, I don’t get to go on all of the cool excursions, and I can only eat two bags of trail mix before my stomach hurts, but it’s always a blast. If our campers are experiencing even a fraction of what I get from being a part of Take2, then all of the people who give their time, money and heart to this camp are doing something right. Thank you. 

Someone recently admitted to experiencing the "Sunday Scaries" every week before work. This is the unfortunate phenomenon where people experience increasing amounts of anxiety as their weekend comes to a close. After some commiseration and reflection, I realized that we experience similar anxiety getting ready for Take2; the only difference is that our Sunday lasts for a month. "Monthly Scaries" doesn't have the same ring to it. Just like those who are anxious about going to work must set their alarms on Sunday nights, we at Take2 must remind ourselves of our own lessons. 

In the nearly 14 years that Take2 has been running, our tried-and-true systems and strategies have allowed us to better serve our students that they may find their own success. We've made changes to curriculum, expanded the outreach of our camp, and introduced innovative additions to the camp (like our improv instruction with Imagination Stage). And yet, we still worry about the unexpected. Each new week, or each new summer, there's always something that could happen differently from the time before...

...Like the time the gym had to be refinished and we were forced to hold all activity time classes outside in July. Or when transportation to our favorite ropes course fell through. Or the time our veteran and beloved camp counselor had a baby two months before camp (what was she thinking!?). We recovered from all of these unexpected moments with a solid landing and a flourish at the end, but only because we had practiced and become experts at utilizing our own coping strategies. Even now, I smile as I remember our staff banding together to cope with each of these setbacks. My coping strategy for this year is to remember the successes that have come out the unexpected and take a deep breath.

At Take2, we are reminded that our campers' social deficits and differences cause them to experience this kind of anticipatory anxiety on a daily basis. We teach them the best way to brainstorm, plan, and execute successful coping strategies so that they can expertly maneuver their way through this scary social world we live in. 

We look forward to sharing this summer's successes with you. 

Panel from the Global Giving Town Hall 2018
Panel from the Global Giving Town Hall 2018

Dear Take2 Supporter,

Even though we're technically in the "off season," there's a lot happening behind the scenes that goes into making Take2 great.  Here's what we've been up to since camp ended:

We're accepting applications! Enrollment for Take2 started on January 1st. We have been reviewing applications from wonderful families who have heard about our camp from friends, related service providers, and researchers. In March, we will get a chance to meet these families in person at our meet and greet. Here, we run some of the Take2 favorites to give applicants a glimpse into what camp is like.

We attended GlobalGiving's Fourth Annual Town Hall meeting. This year, we were able to participate in person (instead of via web) at GlobalGiving's DC office. The panel discussed a range of topics, from new technologies for 2018 to in-kind resources from their network of volunteers. This experience reminds us of how fortunate we are to be partnered with such an innovative network of people dedicated to service. 

We're updating our curriculum. We're making updates and adding exciting new activities to the elementary and middle school curricula. This includes the addition of an outdoor elementary activity curriculum that incorporates team sports and LOTS of water. Think: "water balloon toss", "drip drip drop" (water duck duck goose), and "drench the counselor," which we're confident will become a camp favorite. 

It may be February, but we're thinking about July all year long. Thank you for supporting the work we do in all seasons!

With gratitude,

Callie Stezar

Give the Gift of Friendship on #Take2sday

November, 2017

This amazing group of dabbing, bunny-eared, laughing, tongue-out campers and counselors wants to remind you that November 28th, 2017 is #GivingTuesday (or as we like to call it, #Take2sday)!

Giving Tuesday is a global holiday of giving centered on supporting organizations that give back to the community. We are proud to partner with GlobalGiving to maximize your contributions on November 28th with matching funds and prizes for fundraising leaders!

We recognize that social connections are important--very important--and we believe that financial status shouldn't impede access to successful friendships. For 13 years, Take2 has made need-blind admissions a priority, and we have been able to do this because of the amazing community of donors who believe in what we do.

This opportunity was especially meaningful for Andrew, whose sister's chronic heart condition made it impossible to afford the typical tuition of enrichment programs. The donations we have received, both big and small, allowed us to subsidize camp costs so that Andrew could attend. By the last day of camp, Andrew was personally networking with families for contact information so he could continue to hang out with his Take2 friends. 

When you give on #Take2sday, GlobalGiving will make your donation work harder by offering both matching funds and cash prizes!  Check out the video on our webpage to meet some of the incredible faces of Take2 Camp and learn more about what we do. 

This July, we completed our 13th summer of Take2 Camp!  Here's a glimpse of what we did:

Our elementary campers learned how to "Fix it, Flex it, and Go with the Flow". They practiced problem solving personal roadblocks using strategies like goal-setting and plan-making. During week three, they employed tools for teamwork to build elaborate structures out of recycled materials. One team created an entire town with landmarks that paid homage to each member. During our last week, campers and counselors showed off their camp song skills on the bus ride to the Adventure Park ropes course. New campers tried new challenges, like the True Blue zipline and the log bridge; returning campers cheered them on as they tackled their own goals! Our campers made it look easy—an outward sign of the hard work, solidarity, and bravery that went into this culminating trip.

The middle school crew of 11 campers cultivated an impressive resume of successful excursions, including: The National Archives, the International Spy Museum, Good Stuff Eatery, the National Zoo, Pinstripes, Pizza Paradiso, the Natural History Museum. We also celebrated our fourth year with Rachel Garmon as our improv instructor! She taught our group how to go out into the community with a flexible mindset (in improv: “yes and…” mindset) and think creatively with games like Taxi Cab, where the cab driver must take on the same character traits as each new "passenger" who enters (video on Instagram: Take2Camp). This game had us laughing until our stomachs hurt, and we discovered some pretty incredible performance talent among campers and counselors. At the end of camp, we took to Union Station for our annual scavenger hunt. A picture of our campers posing with "someone wearing orange" is below. Walking around in a moose hat, I had the honor of delivering the "lightning round," where we discovered that all three of our teams could name at least 22 (out of 27) Red Line metro stations in less than a minute. Incredible!

Perhaps the most important takeaway is that many friendships developed this summer. Many of these connections would not have been possible without your contribution, which enabled us to provide tuition assistance to all of our qualifying applicants. Thank you for supporting Take2. We hope your summer was as fantastic as ours was.

Adventure Park trip
Adventure Park trip
"Taxi Cab"
"Taxi Cab"
Scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunt

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Organization Information

Take 2: An Innovative Program for Social Learning

Location: Alexandria, VA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Lisa Greenman
Washington, DC United States

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