Parents of children with Autism-related challenges or other diagnoses such as Attention Deficit Disorder or anxiety may hesitate when considering summer camps. They may even forgo the idea altogether because many camps do not address their child’s unique needs.
For children with diagnoses including attention deficit disorder, anxiety, depression and high-functioning autism (previously labeled Asperger’s syndrome), Squirrel Hill Psychological Services (SHPS) and Quest Therapeutic Camps offer Quest Camp, a unique therapeutic summer day camp program for children ages 6 – 18.
“Quest Camp is now beginning its fourth year in Pittsburgh, and it is still the first of its kind in our area. It’s different from a typical summer camp in that it’s a therapeutic program that provides a supportive and welcoming environment, hourly verbal feedback on social and emotional goals chosen by campers and their families, and traditional camp activities,” said April Artz, Director for Quest Camp. “This is an option for parents of children who might slip through the cracks or struggle in a conventional summer camp program but whose challenges are not appropriate for a special needs program.”
Quest Camp offers campers a highly-structured and therapeutic curriculum with the look and feel of a typical summer camp. Daytime activities include swimming, field trips, sports, and drama, music and science classes. At the same time, the program follows a cognitive-behavioral approach designed to teach skills and reinforce positive changes in behavior to help children learn, grow and increase confidence.
“Quest Camp is not only extremely beneficial for our campers, but it also provides support to the entire family,” April said. “Parents have reported significant improvements in children’s self-esteem, family relationships and interactions and conversational skills, as well as overall improvements in social and emotional functioning.”
Quest Camp runs from June 22 – August 7 and is held at Community Day School in Pittsburgh’s East End. The program offers some scheduling flexibility, but campers must register a minimum of three consecutive weeks out of the seven weeks.
Campers also have the option of continued participation during the regular school year through the Quest After-School Program, a once-a-week after school program designed to build on the gains made by campers during the summer.
In addition to the Pittsburgh camp, Quest also operates summer camps in several locations in California, where children from around the country participate in this unique therapeutic experience.
“Parents should consider Quest Camp as a summer camp for their child if they have struggled in more traditional summer camps, or if the child requires a structured environment, or if they feel that their child is lagging behind their peers socially and/or emotionally” April said. “This is a program where kids who are on the social fringes at school and the community finally experience an environment which is welcoming, accepting, but also challenges them to grow and improve.”
For more information about the Quest Therapeutic Camp program, visit www.questcamps.com or call 800-313-9733. For additional information about the Pittsburgh program, contact April Artz, Director for Quest Therapeutic Camp/Afterschool, at 412-521-3800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.