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Listed below are some Frequently Asked Questions about the Cardinal Kidz Camp.

1. Who can attend Camp Cardinal Kidz?

Camp Cardinal Kidz is for a child who will be entering kindergarten to fifth grade in the fall AND who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The child must not qualify for summer services from their local school districts.  The only students typically who qualify for summer services are those who would potentially lose significant educational gains made during the school year.

2. What is the cost?

There is no cost to attend Camp Cardinal Kidz. The camp continues to be funded through the Great Lakes Bay Autism Center's fundraising efforts, local grants, corporate and personal donations, and in-kind donations from organizations like SVSU and the Midland Gymnastics Training Center. Annual fundraising efforts organized by the Great Lakes Bay Autism Center include: an autism walk and resource fair, restaurant fundraisers, spaghetti dinner, and a motorcycle charity ride. The GLBAC also receives a variety of corporate and individual donations throughout the year.

3. Who runs the camp? Are they qualified to be interacting with my child?

Camp Cardinal Kidz is run by co-directors:Ashley Blake and Mary Schrier, will run the camp together. Ashley will focus on the day-to-day operations with the students, while Mary will coordinate the volunteers, OT students, and field trips.

Ashley Blake is a child development specialist with 13 years of direct experience working with typically developing children as well as children with autism in a variety of settings.  She has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University in child development and early childhood education.  She has a master’s degree from Central Michigan University in Human Environmental Studies.  She is working on her doctoral degree in Human Development and Child Studies from Oakland University.  Ashley has been trained in best practice strategies including teaching children with autism, the use of social stories and the use of visuals.  Ashley worked as the assistant teacher to Camp Cardinal Kidz in 2011 and 2012.

Mary Schrier is a behavior specialist with 12 years of experience working with children, parents and volunteers. She is pursuing a master's degree from Ball State University in Applied Behavior Analysis with an emphasis in autism. She has worked in autism classrooms at Millet Learning Center. Mary led an autism camp at Paramount Rehabilitation Services in 2011 while working as the Marketing Specialist. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University in 1992.

The camp would not be possible if not for the ten Level I Occupational Therapy graduate students from SVSU. These students are selected by Lisa Brewer, the fieldwork coordinator. The students will lead the camp and work directly with the children as part of their Level I fieldwork requirements for college credit within the occupational therapy program.  All of these students are part of the master’s occupational therapy program at Saginaw Valley State University and will have successfully completed background checks.

No outside staff will be employed. Organizations providing on-site and off-site field trip experiences will utilize their own support staff to assist as needed.

 4. How are children "selected" to participate?

Elementary students diagnosed with autism in Saginaw, Bay and Midland counties will be recommended by teachers and school district ASD coordinators. Students will be selected by meeting the following criteria: 

1.   Currently entering kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade.
2.   Have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, receiving school services but not qualifying for summer services through the school district.
3.   Potty-trained.
4.   Able to function in a group comprised of 2 to 3 students and one adult.
5.   No violent behaviors or considered a safety risk by the autism coordinator.

The selection committee will attempt to fill each session with 3-4 students from each Midland and Bay counties and the remaining 7-8 from Saginaw County. These numbers are representative of the demographics of the autism population in the three counties. 

5. What are the goals of the camp?

Children with autism will:

  1. Summer day camp for children who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder but who do not qualify for special education services during the summer. (Generally the only students who qualify for summer services are those who would potentially lose significant gains made over the school year.)
  2. Social interaction between children with autism and peer mentors through the use of group activities. 
  3. Explore individual interests and engage in independent, individual activities.
  4. Engage in community activities.
  5. Learn about autism and mentor peers with autism.
  6. Encouraged to make choices and communicate choice preferences.
  7. Engage in fine motor activities, such as crafts, handwriting, puzzles, etc.
  8. Engage in gross motor activities, such as swimming and gym activities.
  9. Engage in sensory activities, such as swinging, playing in ball pits, and wearing weighted vests.
  10. Be introduced to a variety of activities and opportunities in the Great Lakes Bay Region, including gymnastics, swimming, music, local history, and fencing.