Camp Aristotle’s focus is to encourage social interaction

At The Auburn School’s Camp Aristotle, activities are designed to be completely stress-free in order to engage campers with communication disabilities.

Students from grades K-8 are welcome to attend the camp, which promises bonding experiences and academic skill-building exercises.

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The qualified staff understands the challenges campers face, dealing with Asperger’s syndrome, high-functioning autism and other social limitations. A formal diagnosis is not required to attend Camp Aristotle.

Allison Ober, special programs director, knows that parents like to have options. With seven weeklong sessions, campers can attend Camp Aristotle for half-day or full-day sessions. Aftercare is also available from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 pm.

“We spend time lots of time looking through the applications to see the kids’ strengths, challenges and motivations. We take a thorough look at the individuals coming in and try to figure out what the kids are interested in,” Ober said.

From these interests, the staff creates weekly themes to target what the campers and parents want to get out of the camp experience. Themes in the past have included ‘Anime, film and Japanese culture,’ ‘Science, animals and nature,’ and ‘Planes, trains, bicycles and cars.’ The Lego Robotics session is so popular that it will be held twice this year.

Morning sessions are based on relaxed academic exercises to keep skills fresh. The teachers and staff use project-based learning to develop skills in reading, writing and math. Students have the opportunity to communicate with their peers in this calm, secure environment.

The afternoon session provides more of a typical camp experience, with such activities as arts and crafts and science experiments. Instructors will assist campers with working on computers, cooking small meals, and learning movement and dance skills.

The focus of Camp Aristotle is to encourage social interaction among the campers. Involvement in and exposure to a variety of activities keeps the attention of the camper and encourages constant exposure to social situations.

One of the perks of Camp Aristotle is that they bring the fun to you.

“We bring a field trip in [to the camp] a week,” Obe said. “The field trips have included a traveling zoo and the fire department.”

Camp Aristotle is a great place to send your child to help break down discouraging social barriers.

“We let parents share information. We want campers to be excited about coming,” Ober said.

The staff is specially trained to promote a pleasant learning environment. Camp Aristotle understands the patience and commitment necessary to put the campers at ease.

The Auburn School offers camp locations at its campuses in Herndon, Silver Spring, Md., and Baltimore. The Baltimore campus is brand new this summer; the exact location has yet to be announced.

A snack is provided in both the morning and afternoon sessions, but campers are to bring their own lunch. Aftercare is a less structured time for campers to play outside and create art projects.

Half-day sessions are $300 a week and full-day sessions are $550 a week. Aftercare is marked at the flat rate of $100 per week. Ten percent discounts are available for siblings, current Auburn students, returning campers and campers registering for multiple weeks.

For more information, call (703) 828-7179, or e-mail camparistotle@theauburnschool.org.