Last summer was my son’s first time at camp. He was adopted less then a year before and we were anxious that four weeks away would be like experiencing painful family loss all over again for him. When we told him we signed him up for camp and it was four weeks, his excitement was unanticipated. He was thrilled. His quote was “why did you have to tell me so early!” We told him we would write often and we were proud of him for being able to go to camp. I think he instantly saw this was an opportunity he never had before. The eagerness to do archery and especially riflery were almost more than he could bear to contain.
The first week of camp we received a call from the camp nurse explaining our son had an infection on his finger. She sounded so professional that we let her treat it as she saw fit and felt comfortable in our decision.
We received a couple letters from him during camp. They were short at best. But the content was reassuring, “too busy, can’t write much.”
When we picked him up, he was beaming. He looked like he had lost five pounds and grown an inch. He still had a sore finger but he didn’t complain about it as would be typical. He just seemed like the camp nurse had taken good loving care of him and his finger. He had a solemn vow to not chew his nails anymore.
On the ride him he showed and told us about the awards he won. Obviously he was proud and his self esteem was improved. He seemed well rested, older, and at peace.
At home he was excited to tell family members and neighbors all about his awards again. He was eager to canoe with his very own paddle from camp. His improved reading confidence showed. The next school year he was much more focused with school work. I think it was no small part to all the challenges he overcame at camp. He can see himself succeed now and knows he can do it again!
When we received the holiday newsletter from camp with camp memories and pictures, our son remembered all these details from camp that happened six months before with amazing clarity. It was an indication that the impressions made from camp were lasting.
This next summer I believe will be even more life challenging for our son as he builds on his experience from last summer. Thanks staff of Camp Buckskin for your philosophy and skill in all you do. You made a positive difference for our son and our family. I think it was just what our son and family needed.
Ryan A. (Zach’s dad)
I wanted to write and let you know what a wonderful time my son had at Camp Buckskin this past summer. Camp gave my son the opportunity to excel at activities, make friends, and learn strategies that have helped him more successfully manage his ADD and anxious behaviors. Like most parents, I was worried about sending my child a long distance away from home for an extended period of time. However, all of my concerns evaporated the moment we pulled up to Camp for drop off. My son was greeted enthusiastically by the counselors and immediately made to feel at home — I was also immediately put at ease by the way I saw the adults interacting with the children…there was respect given, excitement shared and an aura of positivity within every counselor.
The letters I received from my son while he was at Camp are items that I will treasure forever. For the first time in my son’s 10 years, I could tell that he felt successful and that he was part of a group — which is huge! Many kids with ADD are outsiders and my son always craved more friends, more attention, more opportunities to be a leader, and his own behavior got in the way of those goals. When I read his letters, it was clear to me that he felt like he was part of the Camp Buckskin family — and loving every minute of it. He wrote about activity levels he was completing, honors he earned and friends he was making. His pure joy absolutely leapt off of the page.
My son would not trade his summer at Camp Buckskin for anything! In fact, the first thing he asked us when we picked him up was, “Can I come back for both sessions next summer?”
TJ. F. (Jack’s mom)
My daughter attended Camp Buckskin for the first time this summer. It was very difficult for me to make the decision to send my daughter to a summer camp as she had never been away from home and I did not now what to expect. I was worried and wondered whether she would be okay or whether she would get sick or be properly supervised. These feelings vanished rather quickly. I felt that she was well cared for and I did not worry about her. When you talk to the Director and when you arrive at the camp, you get a strong sense of organization and professionalism. My daughter has a learning disability, a speech impairment, had been very impulsive, disorganized and with poor judgement. She attended both sessions at Camp Buckskin. I selected Buckskin, because the camp provides individualized services to the campers addressing their individual needs and issues. I was impressed with the pre-admission documentation that was requested and the professionalism of the Director and staff.
We noticed changes in between the two sessions. She was more communicative, had better eye contact and was able to express herself much better. My daughter accurately described the activities and how she felt. She kept saying ‘Camp was so much fun”. She developed relationships with other campers and with the staff. She was very happy and looked very happy. She was well cared for, properly supervised and thrived in a structured setting, which offered rewards for positive behavior. She told us that she liked having a schedule, because she knew what she was doing from hour to hour. She returned home in August with a great sense of accomplishment as she had been able to master so many of the tasks and activities at the camp, which she never thought she could do. She received many awards for her various achievements and accomplishments, she had tons of pictures and was excited about her life and her experience at camp. Her favorite activities included archery, riflery, arts and crafts and, to my suprise, soccer. She has refused to play soccer for many years clearly feeling that she could not compete in that game. She felt accepted and a part of the team. Camp Buckskin helped build her self-esteem and gave her a sense of “Yes, I can”. This “Yes I can” feeling is vital for students with special needs.
I could see an improvement in her organizational skills. My daughter’s behavior at home prior to camp had been increasingly volatile and our relationship had deteriorated. Prior to her departure for camp, she repeatedly told me that she was not planning to write a single letter to me for all eight weeks, but the opposite took place. When she first arrived at camp, I immediately got a short letter from her and by the end of the 8 weeks, I was getting 3 to 4 long letter per week. Camp Buckskin helped her to express herself in writing and her letters improved from two to three short sentences to long detailed letters expressing love, concern, and detailing what she had been involved in. Since she returned home, our relationship has improved, she has been more cooperative and she has been nicer. She has been more willing to help around the home. She keeps in contact with some of the campers and staff via phone and email. When she left, she told the staff that she was returning this coming summer. My daughter will be attending Camp Buckskin next summer. My daughter loved the experience and she felt loved and accepted by everyone.
I want to thank the staff for a job well done. Camp Buckskin is a great camp. i want to thank the Director and the staff for working so hard with the campers and keeping open communication with the parents when they call or write. I highly recommend Camp Buckskin.
Elena D. (Barb’s mom)
There’s a saying I have heard over the years. “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, Camp Buckskin was our familiy’s”village” when our son went to camp. The longest he had been away from the family was a five day church retreat. I personally was excited for him to go, but equally nervous because I wasn’t sure how he would do away from the family for four weeks. I had heard about Camp Buckskin for two years before our son attended. My only regret was not sending him right away! From my first initial contact with the office, to actually dropping him off that Sunday afternoon, all my questions and so called fears were put to rest. We recieved the packet of information and that was when I really knew that Camp Buckskin cared and took the time to learn not only about our son, but our family. By filling out the paperwork, it eased my mind and that in turn made this a wonderful experience.
It was hard to comprehend the only contact was writing letters to him, but what a fun experience. It made me appreciate the little things in life. Everyday I would be excited to get the mail and see the next letter. The first few letters sent, he was having a hard time adjusting. The counselors said this might happen and they were right. But after that, it was him writing what they did that day, the new foods he was trying, books he was reading and lots of other great things. The letter that was my favoriate was him listing the new friends he was making. My son was making friends! That has been a challenging thing for him. Parents of children with ADHD understand this statement. Not only was he doing it, but he was enjoying it! From learning how to make friends, he also came home with confidence, respect, and better manners. Needless to say, he makes his bed everyday now! This might seem like every day skills for most kids, but they weren’t for my son. I would joke that he went away a boy and came back a man.
Camp Buckskin was and still is a positive experience for my son and family. I love seeing the awards and memorabilia he has proudly displayed on his walls and shelves. Thank you Camp Buckskin for everything you have done and continue to do.
LaRae S. (Brett’s mom)
I justed wanted to write to you regarding my son who attended Camp Buckskin for the first session this summer. I have noticed an incredible change in my son — and in our family dynamic since he returned home three weeks ago. We are closer. We laugh more. He contributes more — and even offers to help without being asked. He taught ME the proper way to make a bed . I am also incredibly moved by his motivation to write to his counselors — he has written at least five or six letters now — not because he HAD to, but because he wanted to. This, of course has the added benefit of providing a fun way for him to practice his writing. We still have our challenges — but I believe we are a stronger family for the experience.
To reiterate the lasting (and incredibly positive) impact that Camp Buckskin counselors and staff had on my son, I’d like to share a brief story with you. Last night, my son asked if he could spend some time playing on the Wii while I prepared dinner. Before we sat down to eat, he wanted to show me what he had done. I’m now sure how familiar you are with the Wii — but you can create you own “Mii” (virtual avatar of yourself) so it looks like sort of a cartoon version of yourself when you are playing. My son had created “Mii’s” for all of his camp counselors — each made to look like the counselor he or she represented. He was so excited not only to share what he had done, but to introduce me to everyone he now considers friends. I almost cried. He really loved the experience — and felt loved and appreciated during his time there.
Thank you — to everyone! We hope to see you next year.
Jessica H. (Zane’s mom)
There will never be words adequate to express the appreciation we feel for all the wonderful summers our son has spent at Camp Buckskin. This will be his fifth consecutive year at Camp Buckskin and he is awaiting his return with such joyful anticipation.
Our son has learning difficulties along with corresponding issues involving social skills. Camp Buckskin has given him carefully planned insight and initiative to work through his difficulties and has done so with exceptional skill and genuine concern for his well being. Our son has truly felt a great sense of achievement every summer when he returns home from Camp Buckskin. Indeed, he has made the choice to attend both sessions every summer because he love being there. Although his summer is filled with engaging learning activities and exciting adventures, the program at Camp Buckskin is planned with the specific purpose of attending to the special needs of each camper. Our son comes home every summer having further developed his social skills and his sense of achievement and self-esteem. A boy who at a young age was sometimes chastised for his socially inadequate behaviors at school and in other programs has consistently received recognition and awards for his conduct and achievements at Camp Buckskin. My husband and I fully recognize that his successes and achievements at Camp Buckskin are due to the tireless energy, exceptional capabilities, professionalism dedication of the director, counselors, and staff at the camp.
The positive changes in our son have not only been recognized by us, but also by his teachers, physicians, social workers, tutors, speech pathologist and, of course family and friends. Although it is always difficult to be apart from our child during summer months, our deep love for him and our ardent desire to see him grow and experience genuine happiness at camp ensures us that we have made the right decision to entrust our son to the guidance and care of those at Camp Buckskin.
Mention should also be made of how healthy our son looks when he comes home from camp having eaten a carefully planned and nutritious diet all summer, (including homemade bread), and having engaged in such healthy physical exercise through the multitude of activities which are offered throughout the summer.
It has and will continue to be a privilege for our son to attend Camp Buckskin. We will forever be grateful to the Camp’s director, who has always believed in our son’s abilities to grow and develop despite prior failures. He, along with the staff and counselors at Camp Buckskin, have made a true and lasting difference in the life of our son. It is our hope that other young people will be equally blessed in having the opportunity to be enriched and empowered by having the experience of attending this wonderful camp!
Tina C. (Gabe’s mom)
Our daughter, will be attending her 12th session this summer at Camp Buckskin. She thrives on the structured, yet loving, environment provided by the Bauer family and well-trained staff. She looks forward to attending every summer. The fact that many of the staff return year after year gives my daughter a feeling of security.
The camp is located in a serene environment that encourages that campers’ enjoyment of nature while they are attaining skills to be successful in the world.
The staff is comprised mostly of young adults pursuing advanced degrees. They are excellent role models for the campers. They are trained in helping the campers learn skills of independent living, interpersonal relationships, self-motivation, and overcoming fear and anxiety of new activities and situations.
My daughter has demonstrated remarkable progress in the skills of independent living (hygiene, organization of belongings, getting out of bed in the morning) after only one summer at Camp Buckskin.
Last week she showed amazing skill in interpersonal relationships. She took charge of a situation in which she has miscommunicated with a friend. My daughter told me that it was her responsibility to clarify the misunderstanding. She arranged to meet the friend and his mother to explain and to apologize. The strategies that she had learned at Camp Buckskin.
Also, she feels that she is a contributing member of the camp community. This has strengthened her self esteem.
Sally K. (Courtney’s mom)
I was struggling to find the right summer camp for my son. His first year there, he was 13, and diagnosed ADHD, PDD-NOS, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Anxiety Disorder. He is a mixed bag, with a little of everything and no really strong diagnosis! I scoured the internet, the ADDitude Magazine, the CHADD website, and our Psychiatrist and Psychologists offices trying to find the best place for my son. I narrowed it down to 2 places, and then did a lot of phone calls to the camps to decide.
After a lot of agonizing, I chose Camp Buckskin for two 4-week sessions – and I had never even visited the camp. I was so pleased with that decision. My son initially did not want to go to any summer camp, let along go all summer. But he thrived there. He loved the first session and could not wait to get back to the second session. 4 weeks sounds long, but really it goes by so fast! That much time is really needed to make a significant change in the children. Not only is the 4 week session good for him there, but it was good for the rest of our family to have some downtime to regroup before he came back. When he arrived back for the second session, the counselors all greeted him like a long lost friend, and made him feel so welcome! He never had that before and you could see the self confidence building. He made a lot of casual friends, and 1-2 good friends – something he has never had before. He really needed work on his social skills, and this was all handled there. They can see how he interacts with other children at camp and observe and correct his behavior immediately with many things that we don’t see at home.
Aside from all of his positive ADHD related stuff, he also really liked the food at Camp Buckskin – and came home with some new (positive) eating habits and an expanded list of favorite foods! Another plus!
He is eager to go back this summer, to see his good friends again, and we can’t wait to send him! This has been the best thing for our entire family.
Carol N. (Phil’s mom)
We appreciate the opportunities Camp Bucskin offers Paul. The continued structure throughout the summer helps him stay focused. The staff is wonderful. They seem to value Paul for the person he is, looking beyond some of the problems he has. They do their best in trying to help Paul learn how to interact in a positive way and to control some of the inappropriate behaviors that can occur from time to time. Paul will be attending for the sixth summer and is very excited about seeing camp and old friends. He loves the activities offered (especially riflery –who would have ever thought?!). Camp Buckskin is a safe, caring environment in which he can spend his summer. The reading/writing program reinforces skills he needs to stay on top of during the break from school. Paul grows up and matures a bit during each summer spent at Camp Buckskin. We are very lucky to have learned about such a great place for Paul to spend time away from home!
Nola B. (Paul’s mom)
My teenage son, has attended camp for the past 2 years. It has been a wonderful experience for him. My son connected very well with the counselors at the camp. The first year he was opposed to camp. This lasted about a week. I don’t think anything shorter than 4 weeks would have seen this postive experience. Each time when we picked my son up from camp, he seemed happy and relaxed, lots of hugs and good-byes when we left. Each time he came home, I could tell that he grew. This did not happen easily at home because he struggled with school and organization.
My son said he did not feel pressured and was able to learn at the same time. To see him have such a postive experience is great, one thing that we had not found a replacement for elsewhere. My son is 16 years old now and is eager to return for a 3rd year.
Joyce L. (Ryan’s mom)
I discovered Camp Buckskin about 2 years ago while searching the web for camps I could send my son to. My son then 15 years old, is autistic. He has attended a camp in northern Wisconsin exclusively geared for autistic children, ages 8-15 for one week each of the previous 4 years. Since he was out-growing this camp I needed to find an alterntive. He enjoyed the camp experience and also needed something to fill his summer. The trick was to find a camp that would like a good fit-one where he would be taken care of and yet one that would challenge him.
I can say without a doubt that sending my son to Camp Buckskin was the best thing for my family. I must admit that I was nervous about the 4 week long session, but I wanted my son to be as independent as possible, so we all have to go outside of our comfort zone. Camp Buckskin provides a safe, challenging, fun, healthy, nuturing, and educational environment. The skills that my son has learned at camp have carried over throughout the year; his teachers have all expressed amazement in his mental and physical improvements.
I plan to send my son to Camp Buckskin again this summer making it his thrid year. I know that the first year was the hardest – he didn’t know what to expect – last year was so much better because he did know what to expect and I expect this next summer to be even better.
Thank you Camp Buckskin! My son has come a long way and I can honestly say we could not have done it without you.
Lori U. (Sam’s mom)
Camp Buckskin provided our son with just the experience and service that I was hoping it would. Our son, who has Central Processing Deficiency, was experiencing failing grades in school, despite his high IQ. His emotions and self worth were in a downward spiral and he was beginning to “get into trouble” with several of the teachers and the prinicipal. This was totally out of character for him, and far, far beneath his capabilities, as well as extremely stressful for our entire family.
After a month at Camp Buckskin, we “had our son back again”! Through a month of positive reinforcement, fairly enforced rules, a structured schedule, and exposure to new experiences and new frineds he saw himself as capable and successful. He wanted to learn, and he was happy! I am appreciative of the varied and comprehensive program, as well as the professional and friendly staff, of Camp Buckskin!
Mary D. (Orion’s mom)
Among all the schools & programs I have selected over the years, Camp Buckskin has been the absolute best for my boys. Four summers ago, my California boys were nervous about leaving home. I was sure my then 12 year old (defiant, severe ADHD, executive function deficits, social skills deficits, etc.) would be kicked out. He wasn’t.
Instead, he, and his brother, responded very well to the structure and discipline methods of the extraordinarily well trained Buckskin staff. This most challenging pre-teen went on to earn the “most improved camper” award his second Buckskin summer. His progress at Buckskin continued, earning him the honor of participating in the summer 2006 Senior challenge program . He tells everyone how great this program was, begging to return for a fifth Buckskin summer.
Said differently, Buckskin is the first place where my kids could not manipulate the staff,and also feel they are treated fairly. Coming home from his first session, my then 11 year old voluntarily told me which camp discipline methods to use at home-quite a shock from the world’s number one sneak. My other son’s success at camp convinced me that he could improve in the right environment. From this camp success, I gained the confidence to pull him out of his school program, where he successfully manipulated the entire staff, and was falling apart.
Both boys enjoyed the activities at camp, but most important, both made friends. (I have the phone bills to prove it.) My oldest especially enjoyed the close relationships built with his fellow senior challenge campers and counselors. Deep relationships had previously been missing in his life. He has truly come to respect Tom Bauer, Buckskin’s director.
The annual Camp Buckskin report on my kids is invaluable. I bring the reports to every IEP, and include them with every school application. The psychologist administering the WISC IV test on my kids wrote in his report that all teachers and others working with my kids should review the Camp Buckskin report, and apply the successful discipline strategies identified in the report instead of reinventing the wheel.
Finally, Buckskin is good value for the $. What you see is what you get….no nickel & diming or sneaking in of extra expenses. How totally refreshing!!
Laurie L. (Mitch and Alex’s mom)
Camp Buckskin is a miraculous place. It was where my son first found acceptance. I will never forget coming to pick Aaron up from his first summer at camp. He was just going into the 3rd grade that year. I couldn’t find him right away in the rush of children and parents across the grassy campus so I waited in the parking lot for a few minutes. As I waited, I noticed a boy about Aaron’s age who was sitting against a nearby tree with his head on his arms. Thinking that maybe his parents were late and he was feeling anxious, I walked over and said, “Hi buddy. How ya doin?” He looked up and I saw that his face was streaked with tears. “I’m waiting to go home. My mom is putting my stuff in the car.” I then asked, “You seem upset. What’s the matter?” He said, “Nothin. I’m just going to miss my friend.” Just then, the crowd opened up and I had a clear view of Aaron across the campground. Just then, the little boy’s face broke into a huge smile and he got up and ran across the camp. As I followed in the direction of my son, I gradually understood that he was running toward him too. My heart lifted. Aaron was the friend he would miss so much! I still cry when I think of that day because Aaron was a child who was teased at school and did not have a friend until that summer at camp.
Aaron was privileged to attend Camp Buckskin another time in his sixth-grade year. Because his reading ability was above grade-level, he was asked to read to younger children. I could see the confidence he felt in being given this responsibility and how good it felt to have someone believe in him. And how he burst with pride when won his paddle in canoeing! That paddle is still among this grown man’s prized possessions.
The boy that school counselors warned would likely not graduate from high school and would end up in trouble with the law, both graduated with his class and served in the Navy as an Aviation Electronics Technician. Seeing him graduate from the Navy’s Training Program in Chicago was akin to what I felt those summers he went to Camp Buckskin – it was a “burst my buttons” kind of love and pride in seeing your child at his best. Aaron honorably completed his service commitment and is now an apprentice engineer in Kansas City while he completes his degree requirements in college. Aaron is an affable young man who has many friends and is a good friend to others. As you can tell, I am so proud of all he’s accomplished and I truly believe that without his summers at Camp Buckskin his life would have taken a far different turn.
I bless you and each and every counselor who put the spark of confidence and belief in that little boy’s heart so many years ago. Without Camp Buckskin, the world would be a much less hopeful place for children with ADHD and other emotional problems.
Tracy D. (Aaron’s mom)
I found out about Camp Buckskin 4 years ago through the International Dyslexia Association. My son has a host of issues including verbal apraxia of speech, dyslexia, and central auditory processing disorder. Cullan has now attended camp 3 out the last 4 summers. It has been an extremely positive experience for him. He really enjoys camp life and interacting with the counselors and other campers. I’ve noticed a lot of emotional and social growth, as well as an increase in his self-esteem, each session he has attended. The camp’s programming is well-designed and executed , and the individualized plans for each camper with specific goals in 3-4 target areas is a unique and effective way to achieve results. I feel fortunate to have Camp Buckskin as a resource for my son. I know he has made many pleasant memories that will last a lifetime.
Chuck V. (Cullen’s Dad)
I just had to contact you after receiving the post camp report on my son’s camp experience. I fully agree with your assessment, however, I either came home with the wrong child, or you as a camp have not given yourselves enough credit. Joe came home happy, cheerful, and social. Since he has started school, I have received several calls from the school because Joe is drastically different from last year. He is recognizing areas that caused him problems and avoiding them, he is interacting appropriately with his peers. I can’t express all of the changes everyone has seen in Joe since camp. I want to thank you and just let you know that while you may have not known the impact you made on Joe, everyone else has.
Nadine P. (Joe’s mom)