We approach skill development at Beyond Akeela through a coaching model. Staff are trained to identify moments when teens can benefit from some guidance. In these moments, coaching takes the form of previewing, encouragement, prompts, reminders, and debriefing. There are endless opportunities Beyond Akeela teens have to take positive social risks, practice their time management and organization skills, or advocate for themselves. Staff use these opportunities to individually coach teens on the skills that they are specifically working on.
Additionally, each camper has an assigned staff coach who they meet with weekly to discuss their progress at camp. Teens identify two specific skills they’d like to work on during the session. Staff provide more explicit coaching and guidance related to those two skills, while mentoring them in other areas as well.
While Beyond Akeela teens are having fun and building life-long friendships, our staff is helping them work toward their goals. Below are some skills that we focus on for all teens at camp, which many teenagers who have ASD Level 1 (similar to Asperger’s), NLD (or NVLD), or ADD/ADHD are practicing.
College Transition Program Skill Areas
Teens spend their summer surrounded by a true peer group with similar experiences and interests. Campers practice navigating peer relationships in a new environment that’s both challenging and supportive. Beyond Akeela staff provide ongoing facilitation of social interactions and help campers feel connected and socially successful.
Executive Functioning and Acts of Daily Living:
Beyond Akeela presents countless real-world opportunities to work on planning and prioritizing, time management, organization, flexibility, and task initiation. Teens are empowered to follow their own customized schedule and given tools to help them stay organized at camp. Beyond Akeela teens are also challenged to managed their basic acts of daily living in a college setting. This includes managing hygiene routines, cooking and doing laundry, and budgeting.
Self-Advocacy & Leadership:
Self-advocacy is a critical skill paramount to the Beyond Akeela vision. Teens are given the space to advocate for the type of experience they’d like to have through choice-based programming. Staff give teens space to seek out support appropriately. They help teens advocate for their social boundaries and identify appropriate moments to seek out help from adults in the community. Facilitated activities are designed to challenge campers to step out of their comfort zones while advancing their collaboration, problem solving, and resilience.
Self-Awareness and Self-Confidence:
Being around an appropriate peer group empowers teens and they develop a sense of self-confidence many haven’t felt before. Beyond Akeela sets teens up for success away from the familiarity of their home routines, which allows them to feel a true sense of accomplishment. Through practicing all these skills in a college environment, they develop an awareness of where they are thriving, and areas they need some additional support in.
College and Job Readiness:
Beyond Akeela provides organic opportunities for young adults to practice their independence and develop skills for a socially successful transition to college. A caring group of adult staff members provide honest and empathetic advice about post-secondary options. Campers engage with college faculty to gain insights on the college application process, college course expectations, and accessing accommodations in college.
Community service opportunities are supervised by volunteer coordinators and staff who share feedback and job coaching during and after service opportunities. Curriculum sessions on mock interviews and resume building help teens prepare for future job applications.