Both sessions for campers with autism were a huge success this summer! Dragonfly Forest is a free camp for kids with autism, and this year we had two sessions, each with about 70 campers. I’m always happy when the campers enjoy themselves, try new activities like the ropes course and archery, and overcome their anxiety about staying overnight–but this year I was especially proud that our program hired adults with autism to be counselors.
Attempting to recruit adults on the spectrum in a city that I don’t live in was challenging, but I got in touch with a few people, and 4 of them agreed to work at camp. Being a camp counselor is not an easy job–it involves a high level of flexibility, and the culture here at camp is extremely social. There is very little alone time, and the schedule is constantly changing. I was really excited that any adult on the spectrum wanted to be part of it.
Our staff is fairly diverse. We have counselors from different backgrounds, and we spend quite a bit of our training time addressing diversity and encouraging our staff to honestly acknowledge differences, and appreciate them. Having counselors and campers with autism meant that we were also encouraging an appreciation of neurodiversity. Everyone is always receptive to the idea of diversity appreciation, but sometimes the reality of it is more difficult. I’ll be posting more about our experience with this in the next few weeks–stay tuned.