It’s a bittersweet time for me. Bitter, because I’m always a bit sad and lonely when camp is over for another summer; and sweet because I can take a moment to savor how Take 2, now in its sixth year, has enjoyed so many wonderful successes.
As always, the most important successes are evident in very ordinary-seeming moments. On the last day of camp, for example, staff watched proudly as campers signed each other’s yearbooks, happily exchanging phone numbers, coordinating schedules and greeting their parents at pick up with news of future play-dates. One child had even arranged a pool party for everyone in August. "It will make going back to school easier if I see my Take 2 friends," he announced. Another camper, with characteristic precision, offered reassurance to his counselor as he said goodbye: "Don't worry, I'll be back--it's only 330 days until next July!"
For children with social learning disabilities, this is what we’re aiming for: a community within which they feel comfortable and appreciated; a group they want to be and can be a part of. Although camp is only a month long, Take 2 campers will carry with them the knowledge that they can have friends and feel acceptance as they face the enormous challenges of the typical school year.
I’d like to fill you in on just a few of this summer’s milestones at Take 2:
• Two of our junior staff members (high school seniors) were siblings of former campers. These two big sisters brought with them the wisdom and experience they have developed at home, and learned new concepts and strategies that will serve them and their families as their brothers grow up. Most importantly they were great counselors!
• We served 17 children this summer, four of whom were returning for a third year. As a result we developed a "spiraling curriculum" that allows returning campers to expand their skills while reinforcing previous summer teachings.
• In the fall we will launch two bi-monthly social skills groups for nine Take2 campers. Students will participate in a curriculum (developed by our close cousin, the Model Asperger Program at Ivymount School and colleagues at the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Children’s National Medical Center) designed to promote flexibility and problem solving skills.
• We continued our collaborative study with CNMC (above), and now have enough data to assess the impact Take 2 is having on our campers. We look forward to submitting the findings to a peer reviewed journal specializing in autism.
• Take 2 was the subject of a very thoughtful article in our community newspaper, the Northwest Current. The article is posted on the Global Giving site, and you can read it below.
I hope everyone is enjoying August. Thank you again for your support of Take 2.