Making Summer Camp Fires Up With Your Child

Sleepaway summer camp is packed with long, sunny days perfect for lively outdoor activities from swimming and boating to hiking, tennis and horseback riding. It’s also a great place for kids to let their creative spirits soar, whether it’s writing a script for a camp skit, daring to sing a solo at campfire time, creating a cool nature collage or whipping up a dazzling picture frame in wood shop. Kids at camp play instruments, sing, paint, experiment with the potter’s wheel and learn the basics of wood working. Whether your little camper is trying a new skill or perfecting an old one, summer camp provides a fun, supportive atmosphere for all sorts of creative endeavors.

Theater

Theatrical experiences are a huge hit with summer campers. From funny little campfire skits to exciting musical extravaganzas complete with singing and dancing, kids at camp have lots of opportunities to dabble in the performing arts. Whether acting the lead in a skit, figuring out choreography for a little dance number, writing a script or learning how to build and light the set, summer camp is a great place to try out new endeavors both on stage and behind the scenes. Many camps have a lively end-of-camp performance for family and friends where campers get to showcase their talents.

Arts and Crafts

Kids just love arts and crafts at summer camp. Hanging out in the shade or the art studio surrounded by enthusiastic pals and instructors, campers can whip up colorful collages, braid intricate friendship bracelets or construct unique wind chimes that can summon summer camp memories from decks and porches at home for years to come. Depending on the camp, arts and crafts may be anything from a casual hour or so in the afternoon spent with paints, spangles and papers to full-fledged painting classes in a professionally equipped art studio.

Pottery

Many sleepaway camps feature a fully equipped pottery studio with potters’ wheels and kilns where campers can learn all the steps of creating a ceramic masterpiece, from shaping to baking and glazing. Campers come home with all sorts of beautiful creations from graceful vases to funky ceramic fish and brightly hued jewelry.

Music

Music makes camp fun. Every camp has its own favorite songs, whether traditional tunes or songs that are specific to each camp. Learning and singing these songs is not only a blast but evokes a special camaraderie among campers. Campers with a special interest in music can often join acapella groups, take musical instrument lessons or participate in a camp band. Kids who come to camp wishing to keep playing their favorite instrument can often continue lessons, offer their services for camp skits or just hang out and jam with friends in their cabin.

Wood Shop

Woodworking shop is both fun and practical. Campers learn to use all sorts of tools from the basics of measuring to wielding a hammer and cutting with a table saw. Lessons learned in woodworking shops can come in handy for a lifetime and kids have a blast designing and building cool items from mini ping-pong tables to chess sets and stools.

Summer camp can keep the arts alive for your kids all summer long!

Build Life Long Advocacy At Your Home

Parents of autistic children are entering a new phase along the continuum as the transition to adulthood is omnipresent. We have experienced the highs and lows of observing autism play out during the developmental years, only to be surpassed by the challenges of adolescence. Now comes adulthood and the myriad questions and uncertainties that accompany this stage of life. Maintaining the delicate balancing act of being supportive, yet providing enough space for a young adult to grow and thrive is tough. Things can really get complicated when matters of finances, living independently, and romantic feelings enter the picture. Despite the countless changes we go through as parents, our role as advocates remains active – growing stronger in some cases as the years go by.

Being the parent of an autistic adult has all the universal parameters as parenting a typical child. However, upon the arrival of adulthood, there is a stark difference in one area that marks a distinct contrast. Judgment and sound decision making, or lack thereof, makes adulthood such an unpredictable venture for adults on the spectrum. Subsequently, parents must advocate for appropriate housing options, educational accommodations, health care interventions, and money management issues. At the risk of appearing overprotective, parents of adults on the spectrum must keep their battle axes sharp for potential situations involving exploitation or harm. Trusting the wrong people in precarious situations is a constant worry for us as parents because our adult children lack the social skills to discern evil intent. There was a time early in the process of child rearing when confronting educators or medical personnel regarding a certain procedure seemed incredibly daunting. However, advocating for adults is an entirely different ball game as matters often involve money, emotions – or frequently both.

After maintaining the high wire act of parenting an autistic adult, we actually become very adept at being assertive when necessary and taking a more reticent approach when called for. At some point there is a moment of clarity when parents realize advocacy will continue, in some way or form, for the rest of your life. This may even involve a touch of humor as normal mild-mannered moms and dads can become quite animated when standing up for their autistic son or daughter. The parental instinct remains strong regardless of age and the desire to protect knows no boundaries; for children ages 14 or 47. There are benefits in serving as an advocate for both your own child, or in a more formal capacity. First, the need to stay informed is an absolute must as it requires knowledge of the latest trends and changes taking place in our fast paced society. In addition, advocacy provides a platform upon which parents and adult children can build strong lasting bonds. In too many circumstances, relationships between adult children and parents are strained, with common ground being virtually non-existent. Fighting for the same causes gives many families a rallying point to share ideas, passions, and perspectives.

Serving in an advocacy role doesn’t erase the hurt we feel for our autistic adult children, but it strengthens our resolve to continue the fight. Moreover, as we become more seasoned, there is a state of calmness that comes with acceptance of life as it is. We can’t dictate all the terms of our lives, but we have the opportunity to share our experiences with others. Experiencing autism as adults is indeed a different journey for both parents and adults. At the end of the day, we are glad we have our children in our lives and appreciate the meaning they provide even more. For parents with adults on the spectrum, the feelings are intensified as we learn to let go, but not allow them to stray. In the meantime, keep those battle axes sharp.

Step To Helping a Child To Do Well

Well, it’s time for a new school term. Most parents and grandparents think that it is up to a child to do well in class and on their report cards. They often don’t recognize, however, how their own actions contribute to the child’s progress.

Here are some things that you can do to help your child succeed:

1. Encourage and praise effort – I remember hearing about a research project where children were given puzzles beyond their abilities. Some of the children were excited and asked if the researchers would give their mothers the name of the manufacturer so that they could keep trying to solve them at home. The other children gave up and refused to try because the puzzles were too difficult. Upon further examination it was found that the first group had always been encouraged to try and so they were not afraid of failure. In fact, the more that they tried to solve problems, the more they succeeded and the better they felt about themselves. The second group, however, had been told that they were smart, attractive and “special”. They gave up easily thinking that they didn’t want to fail and damage the image that others had of them.

2. Promote accountability and communication – When you are aware of the expectations of the teachers and school staff, you are able to help your child to complete their work and tasks on time. It is not acceptable to say “I didn’t know they were supposed to do that”. On the other hand, it is important that you don’t do the work for the child. Show an interest in the child’s academics and keep in touch with the teachers. Make sure that you attend the Parent-Teacher interviews or set up an alternate time so that you are aware of the progress that is or isn’t being made. If there is a specific weakness, arrange to have regular communication with the teacher so that you understand what is required and when it is due. Teach your child the importance of meeting deadlines and submitting work that shows good effort.

3. Provide a safe, clean and peaceful environment – It is difficult for anyone to do well if they are living in chaos. Make sure that the child has nutritious meals and a regular routine that they can depend upon. A bedtime (without computer distractions) will provide their brain with the best chance to do well in class the following day. Have them prepare their clothing and books the night before so that they have everything ready and don’t have to rush. The most important thing is that they are able to experience a stress-free and peaceful environment. Children who live with conflict are never able to relax and think about positive things. Keep things calm!

4. Be a good example – “Do as I say and not as I do” is not a credible stance to take. If you want your child to be responsible and respectful then you will need to model this for them. When I worked in the school system it was always interesting to meet the parents of children who performed or acted inappropriately. Sometimes you could pick the parents out of the crowd as they looked and acted exactly like the child (or the other way around). Your child loves you, needs you and emulates you. The most powerful way to change their behaviour is therefore to correct your own flaws and weaknesses. Set a good example.

Teens Still Need Their Parents

Times have surely changed. Throughout the world, parents have promoted the development of uncontrolled and disrespectful children. Parents have very little time to bond with their children. They are either too busy trying to make an impression in a materialistic, overachieving society or, they have given up on life. Children are thus left with large amounts of unsupervised time and little parental love and attention.

Within every child there is a developing moral sense. In fact, children crave moral order. Parents have little desire or time to help their children, and turn to the churches and schools to take over the responsibility for giving moral guidance and discipline. Spiritual leaders and teachers can do only so much. A firm foundation for everything must be provided at home.

Unfortunately, most children are subjected to parents who set bad examples. Many parents refuse to sacrifice their time, pleasures and personal conveniences for the needs of their children. Aggressive parents yell and scream at their children, swear and treat other people with indifference and disrespect. Children learn through example and become the mirrored reflection of their parents. When parents are absent, children reflect the examples set by their peers.

Teenagers, especially, need their parents. During puberty, they experience new feelings and emotions. They face daily pressures from teachers and peers. They are exposed to the influence of television, music, and the Internet. Teenagers suffer stress and anxiety, and they are too inexperienced to handle it in a positive way. Busy parents should never assume their children are fine because they have provided them with money, Sunday school and an opportunity for education. Today’s children and teenagers are exposed to pressures and problems unknown to past generations. Spending quality time with them will help parents establish this.

Parents who feel that they have lost touch with their children need to take serious steps to build bridges, one conversation at a time. Children may not always appreciate the sudden parental attention and protection. They may well show resentment at times, especially when they insist on having things done their way and the parents answer is suddenly ‘no’. We live in a degraded world and therefore we need to do what is necessary to raise our children well. Good parents know the balance and are neither too lenient nor harsh.

Parents who are striving hard to be a positive force and a real presence in the lives of their children are blessed. They know that raising children is hard work, but the rewards are priceless.

The time and energy parents invest in the lives of their children cannot be replaced. To be a positive force in their children’s life requires effort, but it is very rewarding.