What is your general approach to working with social anxieties and social differences?
Understanding that each young person is different, we look to the individual’s next step forward instead of focusing on the last step taken. We use a combination of strategic methods in all of our activities. When someone is anxious, we help him or her to investigate the experience. Often a peer will be able to share a similar feeling and possibly a resolution that worked for him or her. Simply knowing one is not alone can be immensely helpful.
What are the dates of your four different programs?
Aspen Network Team Camp is two weeks beginning in early July. The dates vary each year—as well as the application and payment deadlines—so please see the Team Camp Application page on this site. The other three programs run throughout the year, with Group held on most Thursdays. For more details, see the Team-Living PODs, Living Skills Group and One-on-One Coaching links on this site.
How do you manage co-ed youth?
At camp, girls have their own dormitory with female staff; boys have their own dormitory with male staff. In the PODs, residents have same-sex roommates, but do not have 24/7 supervision. We are very thoughtful and involved with male/female interaction. It is an important part of life and needs respectful observation and continuous discussion, especially because some of our young people have anxieties about interacting with members of the opposite sex. Because of our sensitivity to the issue, we rarely have any problems.
How can I help my young person get ready (or willing) to attend camp?
We believe that all potential campers should meet us prior to camp, whether in person or by video chat, text, or email. Many are less than excited at the thought of outdoor experiences, such as hiking, rafting, and swimming. However, our young adult staff can reach out to the reluctant prospective camper with a hand of encouragement; this often results in that reluctant individual deciding to attend. Applicants, whatever their age, are often leery of being “assessed” by one or more people, but we have a careful process for helping youth find what works for them. We are genuinely interested in their goals and wishes—which is why our application form includes the kinds of questions it does. Generally, as applicants begin to sense our sincerity, they begin to feel more comfortable.
Two weeks, can be a long time to be away from home. How do you handle homesickness?
Feeling homesick is completely normal. Familiar surroundings and routines help us feel more assured and relaxed. A new place like camp may feel unfamiliar at first, especially if campers are not sure what to expect. But once they begin to feel more familiar with their surroundings and schedule, feelings of homesickness often go away. Also, feelings of homesickness can provide a useful teaching opportunity for how to work through a tough situation. There are many circumstances in life, like coming to camp, that may take someone out of his or her comfort zone, but taking one step at a time can make dealing with these events much less difficult. Our goal is to make sure each camper has some positive experiences every day.
Your camp has a large age range—13 to mid or late twenties. How do you handle the different age groups?
Very thoughtfully and with a lot of practice. We carefully organize age- and maturity- appropriate topics. Different “break out” groups cover topics appropriate for those preparing for high school or those in high school, for those getting ready to move past high school, for college students, and for those on work-related career paths. We have a number of years of experience addressing the needs and interests of the different age brackets, and we have an excellent, well-trained staff that is sensitive to these issues. Of course, some important social skills and lessons cross all age groups, such as the importance of communication and how to begin, engage, and care for relationships. Frequently, older campers become mentors to younger campers, a winning situation for both.
How are personal electronics handled at camp?
Carefully. We know this may be a challenge for many of our young people. Electronics such as phones and iPods are permitted at camp; however, Gameboys and computers are not. Upon arrival, once everyone has settled into their dorms, staff collects all electronics. Most campers are permitted 30 to 45 minutes each day (when we are not in the back country) to use their approved electronics. This is the time when they can contact their parents or friends. After the 30 to 45 minutes passes, electronics are checked back in by staff. Some teaching is done surrounding the issues of how virtual worlds may be impacting their lives and ways they might be able to use their individual gifts to create more satisfying connection with their new peers.
What kinds of activities go on at camp?
A lot of fun and interesting things. See the Aspen Team Camp page for specifics, including a typical daily schedule.
What items do I need to pack for camp?
We have provided a packing list on the Camp application page. Remember that we are not responsible for lost items.
How do we apply for one of your four programs?
Application forms are available in the four pages under “How to Apply” on the menu above. Note that each program’s application form is slightly different. Please check to make sure you have completed all parts of your form before you submit it; incomplete forms cannot be processed. Note that some of the applications require that specific areas be filled out by your medical and mental health professionals.