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Baker Summer Camp

This guest post is by Sarah Jennings, from the Major Gifts department. Here she details her experience when she visited camps who were awarded Baker Camp scholarships funds in 2010.

Almost two years ago, Malcolm and Norma Baker, parents of a 39-year-old son on the spectrum and long-time contributors to the AGP research, funded by Autism Speaks, invited me to their home to discuss a project they wanted to “hand over” to develop into a national program.  For ten years through the regional centers in Los Angeles, Malcolm and Norma had funded a summer camp program for children on the autism spectrum.

Their dream was to see the program expand nationally.  They knew that Autism Speaks was the organization to go to for the program grow and flourish.  We accepted the challenge and the Baker Summer Camp Program was born.

The summer of 2010 was the inaugural year.  I had the pleasure of visiting five of the camps we funded in Southern California, from Burbank to Torrance, the West Side to Hollywood.  I saw kids playing in groups, interacting with peers, involved in dress-up games, outdoor sports and picnic lunches.  Kids who never rode a bicycle before were riding bikes; children afraid of water learned to go down the water slide and shrieked with joy as they ran through a water sprinkler.

From one-on-one interaction, pairing “spectrum buddies with non-spectrum buddies” to visiting a major film studio and making their own film, kids enjoyed just being kids. They learned from each other.  They overcame fears.  They made friends.  They had fun.  In other words, they fully enjoyed their camp experiences, just like other kids who are NOT on the autism spectrum.

“We always dreamed about sending our son Randy to camp,” said Norma.  “But it was not to be.  At the time he was little there were no camps that could handle a boy like our son.  We wanted him to learn how to fit in.  We wanted him to have fun.  We wanted him to learn how to be social.  We wanted him to have friends.  Now that he is an adult we can see how he could have benefitted from such an experience.  We wanted to give families who can’t afford it an opportunity to send their children to camp and have fun while they have a break and enjoy some respite.”

The Baker Summer Camp program funding “saved” more than one program I visited.  One camp director told me that when he started his camp ten years ago it was 95% private pay.  Now the tables have turned and it is only 5% private pay.  If he had not received scholarship money for his campers he would have had to cancel his camp program.  Another director introduced me to identical twins on the spectrum.  Their mother said they had never had an experience like this and she was so grateful that she could send the girls to camp together.  “It is the first break I have had in the summer in the nine years since they were born.  I can’t thank you enough.”

For more information about the Baker Summer Camp Program visit here.

Family Services provides resources and information. If you have a question, contact the Autism Response Team today. If you’re concerned that your child may be affected with autism or if you’ve received a diagnosis, browse the Tools for Families section, where you’ll find our 100 Day Kit, and the Autism Video Glossary. If you’d like to do a quick search for service providers near you, select Find a Local Resource and browse the Resource Guide.

Categories: Family Services
  1. January 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    For Immediate Release: All Autism Groups Have Been Granted One Year Free Access To Library Of 900 Interactive Children’s Books For Grades K-6

    Houston, Texas – January 23, 2011 – “We saw a story about a company called Tom’s Shoes where for every pair of shoes purchased they give away a pair to a child in need. We thought that was a pretty great idea so we decided to give away free subscriptions to our entire catalog of books to selected organizations across the country with the hope that they will see why thousands of teachers subscribe to our theory that learning to read should be fun,” says president Cliff Dew.

    I teach a class of severely disabled, non-verbal students for whom standard books mean very little. They do not have enough receptive language to listen to a story read by the teacher. They do respond to animation and sound, however, especially music. Mightybook stories and songs have definitely captured their attention in a way other materials have not. We have used MightyBook in a variety of ways in the Learning Center/Reading Lab that I direct. I use your website so often the students get excited when they see the Home page open up. Your site has opened new doors by providing the words to every activity – which contributes to reading exercises. Our Reading Lab is so much fun; thanks…Beth K. Teacher

    All members are being given a one year free subscription to their catalog of 900 animated books, lesson plans, quizzes, story songs, games and puzzles that inspire early childhood literacy for grades K-6, free of charge now through 12/31/2011.

    It’s an award winning safe and secure “Kid’s Friendly” website that helps kids discover the joys of learning to read. There’s a whole library of books for kids with special needs and MightyBookjr.com is ideal for English as a Second Language and English Immersion.

    Simply log on to their home page http://www.mightybookjr.com and click on, “SUBSCRIBE NOW” and use this as your COUPON CODE:

    FREE COUPON CODE: learntoread (lower case letters)

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    I home school my four kids, and even my 2 year old loves to sit and listen to the books and songs! We have really enjoyed the art/music area with my older ones and also the science songs. There is just so much here to click and discover. I recommend you try it out! Great job MightybookJr folks!…Melissa M. Oklahoma Home Schooler

    My Supervisor asked me about your reading program and I told him that It encouraged students to read more. We have a student that did not want to read when told to get a book. Now he does his homework so he can go and listen to a story and even answer the questions. He has also started to look for books in the library. Merry Christmas!…- Gloria D., 21st Century After School Program

    Bob Burns
    VP Education


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