The Essence of Learning9 August 2017
The All Special Kids (ASK) 10th Annual Bilingual Summer Camp is presently running at IIL from July 17th to August 11th, a unique moment of powerful learning and teaching experiences for roughly 80 kids and young adults with Special Educational Needs.
When you walk around ASK Summer Camp for the first time, you recognize all the signs of a great camp : colors, music, laughs, excited kids and even more excited staff. A closer look at the very specific set of activities make you realize that you have reached a place in which learning is back to its roots, the freeing of the learner.
Most campers at ASK Summer Camp have Special Educational Needs. Simply put, they need to be taught differently in order to grow and learn. When it comes to children on the autism spectrum we are looking at capacities so essential to everyday life that we tend to forget that we once also had to learn them : managing relationships with others, being capable of working despite surrounding noises and expressing oneself. Seeing a student on the autism spectrum progress in any of these makes you approach the very essence of learning.
Through the resources of art therapy or study skills, or during time spent in friendship, social skills or game rooms, all campers at the ASK Summer Camp progress on individual and specific learning paths. Whether the camper is faced with formidable learning difficulties, or “neurotypical” (the term used for those without learning difficulties), ASK’s vision emphasizes the importance of having all learning, playing, eating and laughing side by side as equals. ASK prides itself on providing learners with an environment in which everybody is empowered to identify, celebrate and strengthen their abilities, no matter where their difficulties may lie.
A thorough registration process provides the coordinators of the camp with the information required to build individual learning plans. The actual working sessions cover the rigor of the teaching and learning strategies under the fun of four exciting themes (one per week) : Wild West, Superheroes, Around the World and Messy Olympics. A subtle balance is reached between efficiency and craziness, making the camp an utterly rewarding experience for both the mind and the heart, for kids as well as for adults.
In addition to the expertise of ASK, the Summer Camp’s success relies on the many volunteers, who must undergo a rigorous online and face to face training procedure, and that make an unheard of staff-student ratio possible : 34 staff for 22 campers on week one, for example. When asked why they decided to donate their time to the ASK Summer Camp, the volunteers answer with the strong sense of purpose provided by their participation at the camp, a sense of purpose shared by many donors that make a strong contribution to the funding of the project. I am happy to congratulate the IIL students who volunteered for the camp.
An exceptional team of experts in the field of Special Education Needs makes for the conception, planning and delivery of the everyday activities.
As Director of Education at IIL, I am impressed by the difference the camp is making not only in the life of the participants, but also in that of yours truly, while my office is situated in the same hall as the camp.
Dr David Claivaz
Director of Education