Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is Ascendigo effective?
- What are your safety procedures?
- Will my child get tired easily?
- Can my child attend multiple weeks?
We believe in sports immersion, where a participant can be in the sport and learning it, without necessarily know they are doing so, because the approach is naturalistic but also supported. There is no tuning out the learning because the participant is in the midst of doing it. The brain takes over and awareness and learning become automatic. Because the activity is so fun, campers want to do it. Doing the sports can increase anxiety, but the participant has many chances to overcome the fears and comes away with a sense of accomplishment.
Our learning philosophy and approach is holistic based on a neuro-developmental understanding of autism spectrum disorders. The model draws from occupational therapy theories and the importance of active engagement in meaningful and purposeful activities and the science of applied behavior analysis. The core beliefs of the model incorporate the importance of positive, reciprocal relationships with people with autism spectrum disorders and understanding principles of learning to efficiently and effectively teach skills. Positive supports are used to understand behaviors, teach new skills and set up a successful environment.
Our senior instructors are gifted coaches. From the beginning, they naturally build motivation and successful experiences for novice and experienced campers alike. Motivation is created within the activity allowing the camper to experience the height of the activity with support as needed. Following initial exhilarating and positive experiences, a camper’s program is designed with multiple opportunities to practice target skills, gradually increasing independence. On-going assessment, activity analysis and adaptation with equipment are key to individualizing instruction plans. The techniques our instructors use are inherent in the principles of learning, including shaping, chaining and prompting, and are integral in occupational therapy practice.
Whitewater rafting is undertaken through the auspices of certified, licensed outfitters. Campers wear life preservers and helmets on the river. Wall and rock climbing and rappelling as well as our ropes challenge course are also supervised by licensed, experienced instructors. Campers wear safety harnesses at all times while climbing. On outdoor rocks, counselors or instructors climb ropes parallel to campers, offering side-by-side instruction and support. Our powerboats for skiing and tubing are driven by experienced boatmen. Each Boat is a “ski specific” boat which have center mounted inboard motors. The propeller is under the boat, not behind it. Each boat is equipped with a swim platform off the back of the boat. Life preservers are worn at all times. We have a satellite phone on the boats for ship-to-shore emergency communication. Swimming pools have trained lifeguards.
The first day’s activities (Monday) are less strenuous than those slated for later in the week. This schedule allows campers to become acclimated to the higher altitude, heat, and drier air of the Aspen area. Campers are monitored for signs of altitude sickness and hyperthermia. Camp staff makes adequate hydration a priority. Drinks and healthy snacks are provided during the day. We carry a camping tent with us to activities to have an on-site cool, comfortable area to relax, chill, or rest, as needed.
Although our adventures can take us into wilderness areas, campers are never more than 5 miles from a road and the camp vehicles. Modern hospitals are within 25 miles of any activity. Our staff is trained in CPR and first aid. One of our most critical safety tools is the one-on-one oversight of campers. We carry a photo of each camper in the camp vehicle in case the camper is lost, and each camper carries an ID tag on their clothes or backpack.
** Please note that we do engage in outdoor athletic activities that pose some degree of risk. **
If a camper poses a safety hazard to him/herself or others due to behavioral or emotional dysregulation, senior staff trained in non-violent crisis intervention for behavior management, utilize such techniques only when other positive methods have failed.
Fatigue is not uncommon in the ASD population. We work around this. If tired, a camper can scale back on an activity, opt out of it, or do a substitute one. Stamina generally increases over the course of a session. For the summer program, each activity is interspersed with a transition time when campers are traveling to the next activity site. This provides several opportunities throughout the day for rest and recuperation. For the winter program, we pace the skiing to maximize the chance of a full day on the slope.
Many parents are surprised that their child can actually handle a long day out on the road. Campers frequently return at the end of the day feeling relaxed, more pro-active and talkative, and they enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Ascendigo believes the most effective road to skill mastery is repeated exposure over a period of time. The minimum amount of time recommended at an Ascendigo camp is two weeks if your goal is physical skill mastery. Ascendigo is providing a new addition of weekend campouts for our campers who will stay with us for multiple weeks. Please see our Program Description information to find out more!
Staying multiple weeks is more common in the summer since the program runs for consecutive weeks and is residential. The winter camp program weeks are dispersed throughout the season which makes attending multiple weeks rare.