CAMP 24 utilizes creative arts therapies to practice social skills


CAMP 24 utilizes creative arts therapies to practice social skills in a group setting, in fun and realistic situations.

The CAMP 24 day starts with a practical, cognitive-based “lesson of the day,” which fits the weekly theme. We then have fun working together within arts activities to promote reading of group member body cues, volleying conversations, and positively addressing any conflicts which may arise – all while learning to be social in a normal setting. While applying the daily lesson, groups are kept small (6:1 ratio) and divided by age, as well as ability level.

The arts provide opportunities to practice social skills in a natural environment. When creating art, music and movement together in a group, many objectives common to many special needs students – such modulating energy and interacting in socially acceptable manner – are addressed. We provide the containing structure within the arts activity, while simultaneously allowing for creative expression and flexibility. Music, art and movement activities provided by a trained therapist balance fun experiences with learning core socialization and self-expression skills – for children of any age.

Within music tasks, students get to select instruments and negotiate with peers when they may need to wait their turn for a certain instrument – this is the introduction to the children of the need for impulse control. The music therapist’s role is to encourage participation and to help organize the activity – even during improvisation – in order to help the group to hear other instruments which peers are playing, as well as modulating energy to play instruments at certain volumes. The music therapist assists the group to negotiate leadership and sharing roles. This therapist also provides song structure to introduce new experiences with different styles, as well as having students request songs they want the group to play and learn. Songwriting is effective in providing a non-threatening structure for expression of fears and wishes, as well as providing group process skills, since we create the song together. Once again, a trained therapist adjusts how much structure to impose to help the students create a song that is both meaningful and fun.

Art tasks are a way to alternate between individual work and integration of that work into a group setting. Oftentimes, art activities start with the students free drawing whatever they wish and then coming together to participate in a group task that can take the form of a mural, a group sculpture or independent art pieces that are shared with the group. Art allows for fluidity between the needs of self and the needs of the group. An art therapist presents tasks appropriate for both the functioning level of the group, and the group’s ability to work together. A higher level of structure for new groups helps provide success as the group learns to work together.

The opportunity to play and work with clay provides children with a sensory and tactile experience. Handling mistakes and tolerating frustration are among the goals of the pottery session.

Dance/Movement therapy groups provide necessary kinesthetic connections that many of our students are challenged with. Developing one’s sense of body in space is a developmental skill that movement therapy tasks promote, within the context of participating in a fun activity. Using props such as large stretchy bands, parachutes and scarves, students develop modulation skills as they manage props of different weights and texture. Working as a group, students negotiate themselves in space with each other while the Dance/movement therapist helps them to learn what is socially appropriate in varying situations.

Recognizing that learning and social challenges are often stressful, we introduce children to yoga as a great way to decrease stress and to learn coping skills to help reduce anxiety. Stretching, breath work, centering, mantras are introduced in a fun and child-friendly manner.

Utilizing a variety of creative arts modalities allows your child to explore their senses fully. We are all more comfortable processing our world in one way (either visual, auditory or kinesthetic). Participating in activities which incorporate all three modalities allows your child the opportunity to express themselves in ways they are comfortable, and to also stretch themselves in ways they would not independently choose – all while having success under the leadership of a Master’s-degreed therapist.

At CAMP 24, we learned and demonstrated that just as all sorts of different fish can live in the sea  together, so too can our campers who come from different backgrounds and with different challenges, get along and share our camp space together

At CAMP 24, we learned and demonstrated that just as all sorts of different fish can live in the sea together, so too can our campers – who come from different backgrounds and with different challenges – get along and share our space together in the “CAMP 24 Aquarium.”

Read what two of our parents have said about their children’s experiences last summer:

Camp 24 has been a safe and fun place for my son to learn some necessary social skills. I love the sheet that comes home every day outlining the terms you use to teach the skill so we can practice at home. We have been using “Whole Body Listening” as a much better way of ask our child to pay attention and “thinking with your eyes” is such a wonderful way to ask him to stay focused. We are looking forward to him returning the 2nd week of August as his first 2 weeks were so successful. THANK YOU!
Parent of a 2nd grader

Our son has been happy this summer! You make the social
skills lesson real and relate to his real life, but he doesn’t feel like he
is in therapy group all morning. He is usually tough to get up in the
morning, but coming to Camp 24 has not been a struggle at all – he’s ready to go and be with the new friends he has made. This age is a difficult one for any kid, but with your help, my son is feeling confident and ready to tackle 7th grade with some very useful tools, thanks to your lessons at Camp 24. We will be back next year!!
Parent of a 7th grader

Click here to be directed to the CAMP 24 week-by-week themes and registration page.