OUR STAFF – Our management team includes owners Linda Tatsapaugh, Doug Smathers and Robiyn Mims. Together, they have been involved with ADHD, autism and Aspergers camps for decades. This is an owner-operated camp, so we have a special interest and passion for running a professional camp.
Our camp staff members are college students or recent graduates who are studying a related field, such as education, outdoor leadership or psychology, and are seeking hands-on experience. Most have had experience working with young people, and all have been chosen because of their good judgment, compassion and insight into our population – children with autism and Aspergers.
MEDICATION MANAGEMENT – Due to our focus as an ADHD, autism and Aspergers camp, the majority of our campers are taking some types of medications. We have a full-time nurse on staff who lives on-site and oversees all medication needs. All staff members who are over the age of 21 are trained in medication administration. We use a medication-packing company to ensure correct and easy administration (see CampMeds) link
We strongly discourage parents from altering their campers’ meds while at camp (no med vacations!), or in the weeks right before camp. If your camper has a condition that requires specific medical oversight, please discuss this with us during the admissions process, to ensure we can meet that need.
NUTRITION – We provide wholesome food that is generally familiar to kids (for example, hamburgers, hotdogs, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, cereal and scrambled eggs). We minimize processed foods and sugar, and encourage the drinking of water throughout the day as well as at meals.
We can meet many special dietary needs, including allergies, GFCF diets and vegetarians and vegans. There is an extra charge to cover the additional ingredient and preparation costs. Some meal alternatives may cover several needs (e.g., a child who is gluten-free may have a dish that is also dairy-free and soy-free; vegetarians may be served vegan dishes).
In an effort to promote healthy eating habits, access to junk food is highly limited, and we do not accept any care packages with food. We also encourage our campers to try new foods, by asking them to accept no-thank-you helpings on their plate and consider trying them. We do have limited meal alternatives for extremely picky eaters and will not let them go hungry. Families comment every year about the new foods their children have tried and now love.
FITNESS – To participate in our program, your child must be able to walk across campus while carrying a 20-lb pack. All of our programs are designed to bring unskilled campers slowly into shape in their activities. We do a lot of walking every day in all programs, eat a healthy diet and drink a lot of water, so our campers increase physical fitness while they are with us.
BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT – We address issues when they happen and usually discuss them in group. We stop what we’re doing and circle up to identify the problem, have the camper take responsibility, come up with some better alternatives and decide whether there is a natural consequence. Time-outs are used to allow people to calm down and prepare to come to group. Sensitive issues might be dealt with one-on-one with a staff person. Yelling, punishment and physical discipline are never allowed.
PARENT COMMUNICATION – Your child’s program manager will call you once a week with an update – though you may call or e-mail them more frequently if you have questions or concerns. At the end of the session, we will send you a written summary of your child’s Talisman experience. We also post camp photos 6 days a week on a secure site, so you can see your child’s group in action.
We discourage visits (except between sessions) and generally do not allow kids to make phone calls home, as this disrupts the group process. We do make an exception to this policy for family birthdays.
SAFETY – We consider safety our number one priority. Talisman Programs have been in operation more than 40 years and our camp owners have been operating Talisman for the last 20 of those. In addition, Talisman Programs is American Camp Association accredited, which includes a rigorous review and compliance process covering many safety policies.
All of our staff are trained in CPR, Wilderness First Aid, and our emergency protocols. We have close relationships with local emergency services, including fire, sheriff, and the Forest Service. Should an emergency occur, we will notify and update you in a timely fashion.