This post is courtesy of Carol Stratton, journalist and author of two books including Lake Surrender
, and, Changing Zip Codes
. It is based on an interview with a Junior Counselor in summer 2017, the subject of the post, Nicholas Keough, as well as her degree in Recreational Therapy and experience working with young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Great thanks to Carol for her patience working with Camp Hawkeye during the busy summer, the time she took with Nick, and her willingness to share some of her writing with us here.
The post can be found in its full and original form at the following web address: http://www.carolgstratton.com/camp-hawkeye/
I love to hear stories of organizations who make camp a reality for special needs kids. Camp Hawkeye, is one of them. I’m highlighting one unique camp that opened their arms to a boy from Canada. I hope you are encouraged as to how they made a difference.
This last summer a young man named Nicholas Keough had a dream come true. The high school student from Montreal, Canada became a Counselor in Training at Camp Hawkeye, located on beautiful Lake Kanasatka in New Hampshire.
It might seem like an ordinary dream to many but as a young man with autism, it was a big step to become part of the summer staff. Keough, who has been mainstreamed into a public high school, has an aide who helps him with his schooling. As someone on the spectrum, he struggles with social connections and the camp enabled him to develop relationships.
Keough, who is considering a career in technology, said, “I have stress in social settings but this summer (working at camp) helped me learn to talk to people and helped me make friends?” He found the staff to be kind and friendly.
He [...] had attended the camp for several years with Keough first completing a Counselor-in-Training program last year, which enabled him to become a Junior Counselor. He [said] his duties included camp maintenance, behind the scene office work, and food prep in the kitchen. He admitted the food, which in some camps can be bland or boring, was delicious! On his off hours he had time to play games with the staff, fish and enjoy the rural beauty. Camp Hawkeye also offers other activities such as archery, swimming, boating, arts and crafts and woodworking.
He sums up his Junior Counselor experience this year by saying, “Camp helped me to grow as a person.”
Hats off to a camp that took the time to allow a special needs teen to stretch his wings in a safe environment. Keough was able to have fun, learn some work skills and grow as a person. That sounds like the perfect summer opportunity!
Information on Camp Hawkeye:
“Camp Hawkeye is a small overnight camp for boys and girls ages 7-17 with a commitment to creating a diverse community. Hawkeye is different: with the feel of family and the healthy experience of the outdoors, Camp Hawkeye uses the joy and fun of camp to break down social and cultural prejudices, misconceptions and barriers.” The camp offer activities from boating and archery to arts and crafts.
Although Camp Hawkeye is not necessarily set up for special needs but other camps might take not to find a few spaces for special need kids who need a great social experience with others.