The Havvago program is specifically designed to support the needs of campers on the Autism spectrum. Youth ages 6-14 are invited to “have a go” at experiencing the excitement and fun of overnight camp in a structured, safe, and nurturing environment designed to set children on the spectrum up for success.
For 5 days and 4 nights, campers will enjoy all the fun of camp – swimming, boating, crafts, nature exploration, campfires, cabin life, and much, much more – while building their social skills, independence, and self-confidence. Campers in the Havvago program travel with their bunkmates and cabin staff through a carefully planned calendar of activities, allowing them to try many of the activities that camp has to offer at least once.
Throughout the day, campers are presented with natural opportunities to work on social and communication skills. Additionally, they sit down each evening with their “goals buddy,” a staff member in their bunk, to discuss ways they worked on their skills during their daily activities, and ways that they could try to improve their skills the following day.
Staff in the Havvago program are specifically trained on how to best support campers with Autism; they are knowledgeable about the characteristics of Autism including sensory needs, communication challenges, and social difficulties. With the 1:1 staff-to-camper ratio, campers are always able to take a sensory break when they are overstimulated. Likewise, having a staff-buddy by their side allows campers to form meaningful relationships with peers; staff encourage campers to introduce themselves to others and hold give-and-take conversations that include the interests of both campers. Lastly, Starfish staff are specifically trained on de-escalation techniques and how to support campers through challenging situations.
Please note that the Havvago program is not the only option at Camp Starfish for youth on the spectrum; many campers with Autism attend other programs at Starfish! However, it is a great option if you are looking for a camp experience that specifically attunes to the needs of children on the spectrum. When determining whether the Havvago program is a match for your camper, please refer to the “Is it a Match?” section on page 4 of the Camp Starfish Guide to Programs.
“She LOVED it and I think it really helped build her self esteem heading into a new school year and a brand new school. She was doubting herself at the time and came back from camp feeling like ‘she was worthy.'”
– Camper Parent