July 21, 2019

I think that all summer camps should have a designated “un-camp” zone, where any camper may go at any time.

So, what would that look like?

Camp is a boisterous crowd, where kids are bombarded by noise and water activities. Un-camp would be away from the action, maybe a sunny clearing in the woods.

Camp means being stuck in pre-scheduled activities, with little intellectual stimulation. Un-camp would offer the freedom to read or draw or solve puzzles.

Camp means navigating complex social dynamics, where bullies have less supervision and more power. Un-camp would have an adult present at all times.

I’m not against sending kids to camp. I loved the feeling of independence it gave me as a kid, as well as some of the more creative activities offered.

But my favorite part of each day was the hour of free time, which I spent peacefully daydreaming alone in my bunk. I always wanted more of that.

Camp stretches the courage of autistic kids, like running stretches our lungs. Just remember that we also need a chance to breathe.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.