Parents usually have mixed emotions when they send their child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Aspergers Syndrome to summer camp. They wonder, “Will my child be safe?”
One of the most important questions parents can ask when choosing a special needs summer camp is who will be entrusted with their child’s care.
At Talisman Programs, children, teens and young adults with ADHD and Aspergers are supervised by a team of highly qualified camp counselors and other professional staff. Many of the counselors are in college or recently graduated from college with majors in special education, psychology, education, recreational therapy or a similar field. Because of their passion for working with kids with special needs, many of the counselors have worked in ADHD camps or Aspergers camps for many years, and they return to Talisman year after year.
One of the returning camp counselors at Talisman explained what draws her back each year. She said, “I have always worked at camps for kids with disabilities, but Talisman has a great reputation and a different perspective on special needs summer camp than others; Talisman isn’t afraid of physical and emotional challenges. Although it might be easier to keep campers indoors, Talisman is invested in giving all kids the opportunity to enjoy nature and to push themselves.”
Before hiring a new camp counselor, the staff at Talisman conducts extensive reference and background checks. A thorough training program begins weeks before the campers arrive, which includes first aid, CPR, lifeguarding, medication management, and specialized education about Aspergers Syndrome, ADHD, nonverbal learning disorder and related conditions.
Robiyn Mims, Chair of the Board of Directors at Talisman, started her tenure with the program in 1998 as the camp director. More than a decade later, she said, “The years I have had the privilege of working with our kids have shaped my career and life.”
The campers become like the counselors’ temporary family over the summer. The personal relationships counselors form with “their kids” make the camp experience more meaningful. Years later, campers remember the friends they made, the good times they had and the bonds they formed with their counselors.
“The excitement the counselors show from the first day of their arrival to the day the kids leave is amazing,” said Mims. “The staff we hire are full of life, understanding, patient, kind and exuberant – and they dress in silly clothes with silly hair just to get a laugh out of their campers.”