Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Sometime in January each year I receive an email from the summer camp that is sent out to all alumni families asking if they will be interested in camp for the upcoming summer season. This gives them an early indication of how many on their waiting list they may be able to contact later in the Spring.
This year in mid March there was an email explaining that for the first time the Camp location would be moving due to maintenance at the school site where camp has been held for the last thirteen years. My son Nicholas has attended for eight years and Matthew seven. They are renting a space a few blocks away from the regular site.
They are implementing some fees this year to cover some costs. With the registration form that is to hold a spot for the child, a $55.00 fee is now necessary. This is also non-refundable. Any enrollment forms received without the fee will not be processed.
Prior to Open House an insurance fee of $60 is now required along with a $60.00 materials fee that is comparable to ten dollars per week as camp is a six week summer program.
These prices have to be doubled since I send both my sons attend camp. There will be mandatory camp sponsored fundraising activities where families are required to raise a minimum of $300. There will be multiple opportunities to ensure that there are options to support each family. Any portion of the $300 not raised is the sole responsibility of the family. So far there does not seem to be a date for when these will take place, the location or any details.
This year they have imposed a fine of $70 for any family that does not attend the Open House, which is the day before camp starts. We always attend to see where their classrooms will be, who the assigned teacher is and classmates, plus the list of field trips and to pack their swim trunks and towels in their cubbies.
Since the camp program this summer is taking place at a different location we will be there early to explore indoor and outdoor to make note of any safety dangers and have both boys familiar with the setting.
They started a family intake meeting a few years ago, which is now held in conjunction with a group orientation. The bad news is this is for parents only on a weeknight a week before camp starts. I have no childcare and do not feel comfortable driving at night. The fine for not attending this mandatory meeting is $45. You will have to do a makeup meeting.
I usually get the funding application from an organiztion that has awarded us the past three years in mid March. This did not arrive by the end of March. I placed a call and learned they were not sure if the funding would be available.
I received the package in the mail almost two weeks ago. Since that time there have been more emails from camp with major changes. They applied for an increase for funding of $333.00 per each camp family. There have been some issues over the years with camp and Regional Center, which is the Department of Developmental Services in California. They fund therapies and camp. There are restrictions and certain wording they wanted in the application for camp.
Next I received a three page email from camp detailing their conversations with the Regional Center and Camp ultimate decision to not be part of Regional Center. This meant no funding options for families, but camp does set up payment plans. We were not sure if our funding would be eliminated since the camp was no longer a vendor.
Another email came with information that this would be possible. The funding through this organization is limited to families with autism who attend an autism camp and have an income of under $50,000. You need to submit the top page of your income taz statement as well.
I am having conflicting thoughts on the camp sending out to the families the ongoing turmoil they have been in with the Regional Center. We families are consumers of the Regional Center and sending our kids to camp. I don't think it is good business practice to let your clients know about other issues within your organization.
The past two summers I wrote about the issues that took place that year. Tips For A Better Camp Experience was a result of a girl being left on the metro after a field trip to downtown Los Angeles. One of the teachers went ahead to the next stops to get the girl who had fallen asleep and her partner did not seem to follow through with making sure she got off the metro rail.
Last year my son Nicholas and another camper suffered with severe sunburn from a beach trip. I felt they lacked Communicating and Planning at Camp.
There are other camp options we will be exploring for future summers. They include -
Kids and Teens Summer Camp
2009 Respites and Camps - for Kids and adults with disabilities
Jay Nolan Camp