This summer, ELG’s Summer Program for children and young adults was a big hit. Children in the program spent their days making arts and crafts, conducting science experiments, braving obstacle courses, and more. Unfortunately, summer’s end meant saying goodbye. We can’t wait until next summer – as long as the weather’s a little cooler.

Weeks 1 and 4: Camp ELG

During Camp ELG, our camping-themed weeks, children and young adults in the Summer Program braved the great outdoors. They lit colorful bonfires (made of construction paper and glue) and fired up volcanoes. During Week 4,  ELG’s summer campers tie-dyed shirts to wear on their field trip to the zoo. At the zoo, they learned how to build tents, an activity that taught fine motor skills, the ability to follow directions, and social communication. Going on field trips allowed our therapists to help kids generalize the skills they learn indoors.

Weeks 2 and 5: Under the Sea

Although every Friday is Water Fun Day, Weeks 2 and 5 of the Summer Program overflowed with ocean-themed activities. During Week 2, children and young adults made octopuses out of plastic bottles and experimented with slime. During Week 5, the children and young adults made lava lamps and received an unexpected visit from Pup, snuggling specialist. Interacting with animals, such as dogs, helps people be more emotionally open, caring, and responsible; for example, a student who struggles with gentle touch learned how to regulate himself so he didn’t hurt the dog. During Week 5, one of our children celebrated his birthday and brought goodie bags to share.

Weeks 3 and 6: Superheroes Fly Free

Children and young adults in the Summer Program unleashed their hidden superpowers during Weeks 3 and 6, which were superhero-themed. They made masks, built clay heroes, and role-played to save the day. On Friday, the last day of the Summer Program, we celebrated with a BBQ, early-starting water fun, and a seed-planting activity. Regina Nicolas Schaufelberger, program director, said of saying goodbye, “We’ve grown to love the kids and we’ve seen their progress. The hardest part of being a therapist is when you have to say goodbye, but knowing you have to let [your child] fly on their own.”

In addition to the themed projects, children and young adults also participated in recurring activities such as watching movies, making ice cream, and the daily Trail of Courage obstacle course. Activities like these provide structure and routine so children feel nurtured. These activities build many skills that they might not gain elsewhere. For example, the Trail of Courage primarily built gross motor capabilities, but also integrated motor planning, concentration, waiting for one’s turn, encouragement of others, and communication; extra challenges such as a three-legged race meant kids had to collaborate. Of course, we also encouraged children and young adults in the Summer Program to have fun; we make sure that they enjoyed learning new skills, as well as practicing preexisting ones.

ELG’s Summer Program may be over for now, but the months ahead will give us time to prepare for next year. Soon, we will also welcome children into our full-time programs, ensuring fall, winter, and spring will be just as enthralling. Children and young adults with special needs will get to participate in similar activities, building social, academic, motor, and other skills. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Summer Program!