Our last day at Take2 was an emotional roller coaster--a swirling culmination of all of the thought, energy, hurdles and fun from the past month. One minute, we were freeze-dancing and grilling hot dogs, and the next minute, we were bidding farewell to the people who enriched our lives, quickly swapping "good-bye" with "see you soon" instead.
Halfway through our last day, a camper approached me in the quiet hallway to make a comment about his experience: "This is the only camp where I have made friends." It was unsolicited and unrehearsed. At Take2, we teach our campers about the unexpected, usually in reference to behavior that is asynchronous with the social surroundings. But in this moment, "wonderfully unexpected" was the most fitting way for me to describe this camper's remark. As the muffled sound of pop music, laughter and organized chaos drifted through the classroom doors, I reassured him: "The friendships don't have to end today."
So many small moments with staff and fellow campers precipitated this big one: Early morning staff meetings to stage a conversation group; learning about "cool thought" scripts to think positively; creating socially-based goals and plans; coaching campers to self-advocate during game play; allowing a camper to write a "No Thank You" note to vent frustration; cheering on teammates at a daunting ropes course. All the small moments come together before our eyes, sometimes without even realizing it, until one day a camper bravely steps out to say, "Thank you" in his own unique, beautiful way.
These small moments are made from the fibers of your support. As we bid farewell to another wonderful Take2 summer, I ask that you take credit for making this possible. Thank you to all the incredible people, young and old, who have given to Take2 in charity, volunteerism and bravery.
Last week, I spoke with a parent inquiring about Take2 who exclaimed, "We need a Take2 in every state!" It made me reflect on the growth of Take2 and our community.
We grow our curricula, which are painstakingly revised and reviewed every year to keep lessons and activities new and up-to-date with the latest research on social instruction.
Last year, we extended our service to accommodate older campers so that middle school-aged children are able to experience the rewarding and lasting friendships that their younger counterparts have enjoyed for 12 years.
We have broadened our geographical reach to campers who travel from places like California, New York, Japan, Canada and Hawaii to attend Take2 in DC.
Thanks to your contributions to our growth, we are able to reach families who would otherwise be unable to send their child to camp. Your donations allow us to nurture the friendships and social success of those who benefit from it the most!
Today, Global Giving will be matching any donation up to $1000 received from 9:01am-11:59pm EST. Any size makes an impact!
Thank you for your support, and for continuing to make our vision a reality.
This is certainly a first: I can say with confidence that I have never had a curriculum meeting at a hardware store before!
The Take2 staff has done an exceptional job of envisioning activities for camp that target the same research-based principles in a fun, new way. Most of them have been created and implemented. Some of them, however, were at once wonderful and cost prohibitive. This year, we decided to throw out the catalog, take matters into our own hands, and prepare for a very hands-on season of curriculum planning.
What could we possibly be creating with raw materials like a tarp, lumber, and pvc pipe? You'll have to check the next report to find out! Until then, these previews will have to do:
Several weeks from now, our wonderful staff will come together to build these curriculum activities for the Take2 community. You, our dutiful supporters, provide us with the tools necessary to create a fun and inventive social learning environment; we cannot wait to reveal our progress. Thank you for your continued dedication and support, which allows us to further our mission of helping children in our community with social learning needs.
To track our progress and stay informed about Take2, you can also "like" us on our new facebook page! www.facebook.com/take2camp
If you could remove one holiday stressor that you’re experiencing, what would it be?
Many of the adults to whom we posed this question reported that things like shopping, keeping to a tight schedule, trekking kids on errands and angry drivers were all major sources of stress. These adults just wished that they could “skip to the good part and socialize with family and friends.”
But what if socializing with loved ones triggered our stress the most?
This is often the challenge for children with autism and other social learning disorders. Finding respite among a flurry of changes in routine, new faces, unexpected events and high social demands is so difficult for our campers and can make their holiday season almost unbearable. Take2 recognizes that the reality for many of its campers is that the 'social stressor' is actually present year-round, and we work hard to teach our campers how to feel confident and competent in the social world by practicing skills such as starting and maintaining a conversation, and teaching strategies like creating a 'plan B' to manage stress in the moment. And of course, we practice gift giving and receiving, so fruitcakes are no longer a disappointment, but rather, a great substitute for birdseed (plan B)!
Knowing that our campers leave equipped with an arsenal of skills and a sense of mastery over the social challenges that the holidays bring is what makes our hearts grow three sizes. As 2014 comes to a close, we remind you what an incredible gift your donation is to our campers and their families. Subsidized tuition allows many more children struggling to make social connections learn how to access their family and peers in a way they were once unable to----not just during the season, but also year-round.
To our donors, past present and future, we thank you for your support and are honored to be the recipients of your incredible charity.
Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a New Year abundant with all of the things that make your hearts grow,
Dear Friends of Take2,
Since we communicated last, we were in the midst of a wonderful camp season. Now, with another summer behind us, I’d like to take a moment to report on the success of our first summer of Take2 Middle School Camp.
This pilot curriculum, which was brought to life by a generous grant from the Reckson Foundation, surpassed our expectations. Even more exciting was the impact the camp had on our campers. The first two weeks of camp focused on flexibility and listening/communication. The final two weeks of camp emphasized code-switching (changing behavior based on your surroundings) and self-advocacy, two essential skills for maturing adolescents. Throughout the course of the program, campers used videos from their previous excursion to assess their progress and create new goals. They got a chance to see themselves successfully advocating for correct change, asking a tourist at the zoo to take a group picture of them and problem-solving together when a plan went awry.
For the middle schoolers, learning to work together as a group was a central goal. While it was sometimes challenging, the campers were always supportive of each other. One camper whose expected item wasn’t on the menu at Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC received support from all of his fellow campers to come up with a solution to feel better and get a little of what he wanted. What a victory!
We consider your contributions to Take2 a victory as well, as they help us continue foster these wonderful moments. Wednesday, October 15th is the final Bonus Day of the year through Global Giving. All donations made will be matched 30%. Donate early to get matching funds before they run out!
Recently, several families have contacted me, asking about the 2015 summer availability. Crazy? We don’t think so. We’re thinking about the 2015 summer too. In fact, we’re always thinking about Take2—but never without first acknowledging that our donors have afforded us, and the children who attend, the opportunity to count on Take2 year after year.
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