My first overnight camp experience and it’s in Pennsylvania with all autistic kids. Dragonfly Forest is one of the only overnight camps in the country that has a whole program dedicated to Autism. The autism spectrum is very broad and diverse, so we saw a little bit of everything from Asperger’s know-it-alls, to kids who could barely communicate at all.
I was asked to not use the names of any of the campers.
This is one of the most interesting kids at camp. This photo was taken on day 1. He refused to talk to anyone. He thought camp was stupid, all of the kids and counselors were immature idiots, and the color purple was ridiculous and girlie (purple was his unit color).
This is Kevin, the camperâ€™s counselor. If any other counselor would have been assigned to him, they would have had a horrible week. Kevin, however, found an amazing way to deal with his cynicism and unwillingness to participate.
Basically, he turned hating each other into a game. Kevin would tell the camper that he was going to sneak in his room and at night and put a snake under his pillow. This camper would light up and reply with some demonic plan of putting the snake in Kevinâ€™s ear. All the while they both had a absolute blast and took great joy in pretending to hate each other. Itâ€™s apparently a great way to bond. This camper gave Kevin this back tattoo during an activity called tattoo parlor.
After a rough first night, one of our campers (in purple) decided to leave on the second day. Her friends and counselors were very supportive and understanding.
This was probably the longest meltdown I witnessed. She was up in the tree in the ropes coarse for about 30 minutes singing/yelling “I’m gonna climb up”.
Here is my other favorite camper/counselor pair. This camper was a runner. He never stopped running all week. Malcolm, his counselor, found a great way to keep him in check. Any time he yelled â€œCheck inâ€, this camper would come running from wherever he was and touch Malcolmâ€™s hand.
Also any time there was a microphone on this camper would run up to it and start beat boxing into it. I think Malcolm taught him about that too.
“Goldilocks” was a great fortune teller.
One of the favorite camp games was “dead fish” Everyone lies on their back and tries not to move/flinch/laugh while one person walks around trying to get someone to crack. Once you get someone, they are on your team and so on until there is only one person left lying.
Another of my favs. This kid knew everything about animals and loved them all… Especially snakes. He only trusted scientifically proven facts. During the opening night after the ‘Dragonfly Story’ (the mythical story of the origins of the camp), he raised his hand and said. “Um, how would that story hold up in the court of law? Is there any scientific evidence to back any of this?”
Will, Kristen and my brother, Justin all came out and worked as counselors.
Sylvia, my brother’s girl friend, runs the autism week at camp. She is the one who got us all hired.
Sylvia takes a harsh crotch punch from Will’s camper.
School of Rock!
These guys are twins with Autism. They also both suffer from a disorder that effects their muscles.
Consequently, they use people as furniture a lot.
Red Carpet night.