Dear POISE Donors,
POISE has changed our daughter’s life in the very best possible ways, and the impact on our family has been dramatic. We have endured considerable and prolonged financial hardship, and our daughter, Emily, would not have ever gone to camp without the assistance of POISE.
Emily’s challenges emerged when she was in kindergarten; she refused to color because she was already reading and computing math problems. She’d sit under the tables with her shoes off and refuse to come out. A public school guidance counselor called us to discuss discipline for Emily and told us that we “really can’t expect much from kids like this. Many of them end up in jail or never finish school, so it’s not worth investing much time or effort into them.” Heartbroken and dismayed, our family set out on a journey to help Emily overcome her challenges. The journey has been one of change, growth, and inner work that we never could have imagined.
While we love her dearly, Emily is a challenging child with an Asperger’s perception of the world. Academically brilliant, her communication style is blunt without consideration of the recipient’s point of view or feelings and she can be immovable when she sets her mind on one point of view. She can be very emotionally intense. This produces conflict both at home and in school. We have learned a lot and yet there is still so much more to learn.
Thanks to POISE, Emily has now attended Camp Akeela for three summers. Quite simply, the camp directors and staff “get” her. They model appropriate and healthy boundaries and behaviors. They have mentored and modeled how to live in community and carry a fair share of responsibilities; that cleaning up is being a good friend and not just something arbitrary; that stretching out of one’s comfort zone with physical activity can be safe and enjoyable. The counselors teach how to self-advocate, how to set a boundary in a way that is fair and reasonable, how to care for others, and how to consider the other person’s feelings and point of view.
The camp experience teaches that boys and girls can be friends without drama. It teaches responsibility toward younger campers and that she has to model good behavior for the sake of others. The friendships Emily has made at Akeela endure into the school year. She and her bunkmates talk of going to colleges together and having reunions when they are older.
Going to camp gives Emily the time to work specifically on the issues that she faces so that when she returns to school, she has more tools to help her.
As parents, nothing prepared us for a child like this. We have a team assembled around Emily at school and in therapy, but somehow there’s never time for those professionals to show us exactly how to use the tools and tips they suggest. Camp Akeela teaches us how to be better parents for Emily, in addition to providing us with three weeks of much-needed respite!
We are eternally grateful for Emily’s camp experience and, by extension, for POISE. It’s been humbling to receive such amazing care for our daughter, but for the cost to be within our grasp is truly a gift from God.
You are making an enormous difference in this world.
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you what your generosity and dedication has meant to my son and our family. If it weren’t for the scholarship that was extended to my son from POISE he never would have been able to attend Camp Akeela this past summer. With Michael's parents recently divorcing and 3 other siblings in the home, Camp Akeela was just a dream for Michael.
Camp Akeela is a wonderful place and experience for children of all ages with common struggles and social issues. It's a place to come together with a trained, experienced staff of wonderful people who give them the camp experience, while teaching them social, life and independence skills without the judgment that generally accompanies daily life with these struggles.
Michael has had a very difficult time fitting in and feeling comfortable in many environments and Camp Akeela made him feel strong, worthy, wanted and confident enough to be the person he really is. A strong, happy, intelligent, loving, thoughtful and sweet boy who is just looking to fit in and make true and lasting friendships, while being able to do all of the wonderful activities that are offered at Camp.
Camp Akeela has thought of everything, from making the transition for my child from home to camp a smooth one to making Camp a fun and safe place to learn. They also keep parents up to date with daily online news and pictures, plus phone calls home from the head counselor. It was a wonderful experience in every way.
Upon returning home from camp, Michael was a much happier person then when he left 3 ½ weeks earlier. He made new friends and wonderful memories. Michael became quite close with many of his camp counselors, which gave him a sense fitting in and being comfortable in his own skin. Michael gained a sense of independence, confidence and the ability to succeed at tasks as well. Since Camp has ended he has kept in contact with several of his camp mates and also has gotten together with one that lives over two hours away. The two boys were so happy to see each other and immensely enjoyed getting together for a weekend. I truly believe that this will be a life-long friendship!
Camp Akeela offered such a wide range and variety of activities for the children to do. Michael flourished in all of his chosen activities and really connected with his instructors, as well gaining a true sense of accomplishment. Not to mention that Michael loved the food and all of the choices while at camp and said that he probably gained 5 pounds.
When he got the great news of receiving a scholarship from POISE, Michael really was excited and looking forward to being able to go to camp and have the opportunity to experience and do all of the wonderful things that were being offered.
All of the hard work and dedication that POISE and Camp Akeela has extended is so appreciated and will never go unnoticed. It is such a wonderful peace of mind for me, as a parent of a child with Asperger's Syndrome and additional struggles, to know that there is a loving, nurturing, socially acceptable, educational place for my child to go and flourish.
Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for such an amazing opportunity for my son!
We all hold hopes and dreams for our children and it can be difficult to accept that they need help that we can't give them. When help is available but out of reach financially, you are at a loss as a parent and there's a hole in your heart. The POISE scholarship program has been a godsend and without it camp would not have been possible. Thank you.
Chris has had a very difficult time fitting in and feeling comfortable in many environments and camp made him feel strong, worthy, wanted and confident enough to be the person he really is. Camp is a place to come together with a trained, experienced staff who give them the camp experience while teaching them social, life and independence skills without the judgment that generally accompanies daily life with these struggles. If it weren’t for the scholarship that was extended to my son from POISE, he never would have been able to attend camp.
It is such a wonderful peace of mind for me, as a parent of a child with Asperger's Syndrome, to know that there is a loving, nurturing, socially acceptable, educational place for my child to go and flourish. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for such an amazing opportunity for my son!
I want to say thank you for finding a way for my son to attend camp. This incomparable experience is something he will have for a lifetime. Going to camp has opened a brighter window for my son to look out of. He says he has never felt so accepted and understood in his life.
Upon returning home from camp, Peter was a much happier person than when he left. He made new friends and wonderful memories. Camp gave him a sense fitting in and being comfortable in his own skin. He also gained a new sense of independence, confidence and the ability to succeed at tasks. Since camp has ended he has kept in contact with several of his bunk-mates and has even gotten together with one that lives over two hours away. The two boys were so happy to see each other I truly believe that this will be a life-long friendship!
I am writing to you with the most amazing thanks and appreciation that words cannot even express. Ian has consistently struggled with issues of executive function and severe sensory problems. There is nothing he has ever been particularly happy to attend in his life but WOW did that change this summer! He only spoke positively and excitedly about the friends he was making, the common interests and passions they shared, and the ability to feel good about his likes and dislikes. He became more flexible and began some serious prospective-taking! Were it not for POISE, we feel strongly that the outlook for a successful school year would be significantly reduced. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
Joanna's experience at camp has been transforming. We credit so much of her growth, her emerging from within, to her time at camp. From someone who might reluctantly participate to someone takes a leadership role is a major shift in behavior. We have watched in joy as this process happened for our daughter. The time and staff at camp have been integral to her young life.