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Quest Camp provides summer camp experience for children with emotional and social challenges

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Every year on April 2, organizations around the world aim to raise awareness of autism and how the diagnosis affects individuals and families. At JF&CS, we provide many resources for families and individuals who are managing an autism diagnosis, and we also offer a multitude of programs and services that assist with other special needs and disabilities.

Most notably, JF&CS’s Squirrel Hill Psychological Services (SHPS) partners with Quest Therapeutic Camps in offering the Quest Therapeutic Summer and Afterschool Programs. Quest Camp was launched in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2012 and is a unique summer therapeutic day camp program for children ages 6 – 18 who experience mild to moderate emotional and/or social challenges. Quest Camp is designed for children with diagnoses including attention deficit disorder, chronic anxiety, chronic depression and high-functioning Autism (previously called Asperger’s Syndrome).

“Quest Camp is a first-of-its-kind camp in Pittsburgh. The program is different from the typical summer camp experience; it is a therapeutic program designed to address children’s emotional and social challenges while setting them up for future success throughout the school year, which typical summer camps are not equipped to do,” said Dr. Jordan Golin, director of SHPS. “Additionally, Quest Camp provides a middle-ground for children who might slip through the cracks or have occasional struggles in a typical summer camp but who do not have the level of need that warrants a strictly special needs program.”

Quest Camp offers campers a highly-structured and therapeutic curriculum with the look and feel of a typical summer camp. Daytime activities include swimming, field trips, sports, and drama, music and science classes, while following a cognitive-behavioral approach designed to teach skills and reinforce positive changes in behavior. The camp offers an opportunity for children to learn, grow and increase confidence within a day camp setting. Parents have reported significant improvement in areas that include self-esteem, cooperation, family relationships and conversational skills as well as overall improvement in social and emotional functioning.

This summer, Quest Camp will run June 23 – August 8, and will be held at Community Day School in Squirrel Hill. Campers and parents will have flexibility to start and end the program during any week of their choosing as long as they complete a minimum of three out of the seven weeks. The group therapy component may be reimbursed by insurance companies, and the program is recognized by several school districts as an Extended School Year program (ESY).

Additionally, participants also have the option of continued participation throughout the regular school year through the Quest After-School Program, a once-a-week after-school program designed to build on the gains made by campers during the summer.

“Parents should consider Quest Camp as an intensive therapeutic intervention that will have an impact all year long, and progress can be continued throughout the school year with the Quest After-School Program,” Dr. Golin said.

For additional information related to the Pittsburgh program, please contact April Artz, Director for Quest Therapeutic Camp/Afterschool, at 412-521-3800 or aartz@squirrelhillpsych.org. For more information about the Quest Therapeutic Camp program, or to register for the Pittsburgh camp, visit Quest Therapeutic Camps online at www.questcamps.com or call 800-313-9733.

JF&CS and SHPS works with families to ensure that children, teens and adults with special needs receive access to all benefits, services and programs to which they are entitled, providing information and referral services, counseling and support groups, advocacy, community outreach programming and more.