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Program Philosophy

When given the opportunity to try new things in a safe, fun, and structured environment, personal strengths are discovered and built upon. Social environments, especially camp environments, provide the opportunity for individuals and families to participate differently in day-to-day activities, to try new activities, and to discover and recognize individual strengths. The Kinark Outdoor Centre (KOC) offers a strength-based care approach and encourages the discovery of campers’ abilities and talents.

In our camping environment, visitors are given the chance to apply what they are learning through rehabilitative and behavioural treatment therapies and parent training programs. School students are enabled to support one another through team and individual experiences, and program facilitators direct the learning toward targeted program goals. Participation in a KOC program supports an increase in self-confidence, self-esteem, and the development of coping strategies through the exposure to group experiences and camp activities. Camping at the KOC is a practice in experiential education.

Program Principles

  1. Outdoor and Play-based Learning Opportunities
  2. Challenge by Choice
  3. Full-value Contract
  4. Camper and Family-centred

Program Models

Customized Social Recreation

  1. Community Development
  2. Parent Training and Practice
  3. Leadership
  4. Skill Development

Respite

  1. Autism Summer Camp
  2. Autism Family Camp
  3. Autism Family Respite

Program Outcomes

Social Skill Development

Increased social awareness including social inclusivity; emotion regulation (managing feelings in a social environment); relational, including peer friendships and appropriate adult engagements; pro-social behaviours including cooperation, fairness (sharing, truthfulness, and including others), and increased confidence; and personal skill development (participation in new activities, increased confidence and sense of self-esteem, improved self-care, task completion and community awareness.

The KOC delivers a strength-based and social recreation program in an outdoor environment which contributes to improved physical and mental health. Outdoor exploration and play, structured through the provision of adequate staffing and set program activities, allow staff to assess group goals and individual development to plan programs accordingly. The goal is for each camper to guide their own experience toward the feeling of success and competence.

Program Pedagogy

Experiential education is an approach to group facilitation that purposefully engages participants in an experience, then focuses reflection on the experience toward greater knowledge, personal skill development, stronger values and social skill development. This approach is defined through a four-stage cycle (Kolb, 1984):

  1. Concrete Experience
  2. Reflective Observation (what)
  3. Abstract Conceptualization (so what)
  4. Active Experimentation (now what)

In short, the KOC works with each camper’s and family’s strengths, needs and challenges. We help families and campers to uncover their abilities, provide opportunities to succeed, and support them in overcoming challenges. Our staff is able to process the daily activities and interactions that naturally exist in a social camp environment in meaningful ways. New skills are discovered and reinforced so the transfer of the camp experience to home life is sustainable and meaningful. The camper continues to benefit at home, at school, and in their communities long after the camp experience is completed.