Contributed by Monica Alves, Special Projects Worker
Poster visible in posAbilities Employment Services
The first session of posAbilities’ Summer Camps went out with a bang! These past two weeks were chock-full of learning and fun, and couldn’t have been so successful without the hard work of the kids, the camp counselors, and everyone in between.
Head Start Employment Camp
Head Start kicked off each morning at posAbilities Employment Services (PES) as an innovative and engaging camp which taught kids from age 14 to 18 all about employment and how to prepare for opportunities after high school. Meet Taylor Hamilton (left) and Kelly Berge (right) – the energetic duo who run Head Start.
This was Vocational Counselor, Taylor’s first time co-running the camp. She enjoyed watching the kid’s strengths flourish and “the variety of skills of the campers”, which she found to be the most rewarding part of this experience. Kelly is also a Vocational Counselor at PES who strongly believes this camp is not only “Geared toward giving them [campers] a head start to employment, but is also about having fun.”
Every morning, the campers would learn important skills crucial to securing and maintaining jobs in their futures. Through various fun and interactive task completion exercises, the kids learned skills such as…
Working together: through activities like the Teamwork and Be Friendly exercise, in which campers grouped up to draw and design a house, learning how to designate duties and collaborate with each other.
Following directions: through activities like the Make Your Own Towel Animal exercise, in which campers learned the importance of actively listening and not being afraid to ask questions for clarification.
Connect with PEERS® Social Skills Camp
Head Start was then followed by Connect with PEERS® Summer Camp, ran by Louise Utting, a Laurel Behaviour Support Services Behaviour Consultant. She ran this afternoon social skills camp designed with a specific focus on friendship building, as well as teaching important social behaviour that will enhance workplace readiness. When asked about her favourite part of the PEERS® camp, Louise said “The role plays. I liked seeing them [campers] practice their skills and watch them develop, and I think they’re fun.” Role playing allowed the campers to put the skills Louise taught them to the test, and apply them to real life scenarios. Some scenes the kids role played included using proper social skills when making a phone call, and how to be a good sport when playing games with others.
Although a bit intimidating to some at first, the campers grew to become comfortable and confident with role playing in front of their peers. Louise loved “Seeing the development of the youth’s skills throughout the two weeks.”
Everything that was facilitated in these camps can be applied to everyday life, and campers are encouraged to use their newly gained skills in school and at home. The goal after completion of these camps is for the kids to leave with the knowledge and confidence they need to face challenges in their futures. Camper Zach, age 18, who attended both Head Start and PEERS® said his favourite part was “Getting to meet new friends and people with the same interests.” Like many others, Zach and his fellow camp buddy exchanged phone numbers after camp to hang out together. This was a small moment that illustrates a bigger picture – these camps facilitate friendships.
We spoke with Lily, mom to recent PEERS® camp graduate, Mark, who began struggling socially in his grade 11 year of high school.
“He suffered mood issues as he did not have the social skills necessary to try to talk to kids he didn’t know. He ended up withdrawing and isolating himself from his peers. Throughout his life, whenever Mark needed to learn something, we were able to break it down into steps for him to follow to achieve the skill he wanted. This was the first time, we really couldn’t break things down for him to follow. That caused great frustration for both he and his parents.”
Lily says for Mark, “this camp did what we couldn’t, which was breaking each daily curriculum item down into easy to follow steps. The role plays each session also gave the kids a bit of practice even though it was scripted most of the time. We now have something to work on that is tangible and teachable.”
* Names changed for confidentiality
Looking for social skills based summer camps designed to…
- teach important social behaviours
- build friendships
- enhance workplace readiness
- and teach employment skills crucial for your child’s future?
If you see your child struggling, help them make a change in their lives! We’ll be offering camps again in Spring 2018. Sign up for our newsletter TODAY for all the latest updates here or visit www.pesworks.ca and www.laurelbc.ca for more info.