New Respite Program for Children at Camp Garagona

In 2017, the Butters Foundation pledged $40,000 to a new respite program at Camp Garagona in Frelighsburg that is open, within certain limits, to pre-adult children that have not had success with other camps and respite facilities due to behavioral problems. The Foundation was interested in supporting respite for families that had had no or very little respite up to that time, thereby potentially leading to parental issues and stress on family life.

Marketing this new project in the area has seen some success. To accommodate campers with behavioral issues, the camp introduced an orientation program that oftentimes involved up to 3 free visits to the camp before spending a night. Each camper has a custom-made program that ensures ‘’success”, i.e. a good time for the camper & rest & relaxation for the rest of the family. The foundation grant finances 75% of the visit which allows the family to schedule more visits for the same money. So far (February 2018), 43 reservations have been made involving 201 nights of respite during 16 different sessions until August of 2018. Stays will vary from a short 18 hours to as long as 4 days, (see photo below of a recent sliding activity).

According to Nick Brien, DG of the camp, “Garagona offers respite to families of children living with an autism spectrum disorder, understanding their difficult day-to-day reality, in the hopes of establishing a lasting relationship with them and of being part of their solution. Our programmes and interventions are focused on the individual participating in the activities with the goal of creating joyful experiences in a stimulating, respectful, natural and friendly environment.”

The camp is committed to providing service, where possible, to families that have had trouble finding respite services up to now because of the age or behavioral issues of the child. This is a much needed service to ensure that parents can continue to raise and care for a disabled or autistic child with special needs.