The s’mores, campfires and nights under the stars are some of the highlights of our childhood summers. If you’re longing for an adult version of that experience, we’ve got you covered.
A-Camp will host its first ever Camp 4 A-Cause on Saturday, April 30 from 6-9 p.m. on the grounds of St. Joseph Center of Arkansas. Dinner will include barbecue sandwiches, baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw, with s’mores for dessert of course. It doesn’t get much more campy than that.
Event chair Caitlin Vestal got involved with the organization about a year ago and said she has become passionate about the work A-Camp does for autism awareness and for youth on the autism spectrum.
We got the inside scoop from her about A-Camp and the upcoming fundraiser. Her responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Can you tell me about A-Camp’s history?
Caitlin Vestal: A-Camp is a fairly new non-profit to the Central Arkansas area, having been founded in 2009. It was founded by two local mothers of children with autism who saw a need for a safe, consistent place to send their kids during the summer. Eight kids signed up for the first summer of A-Camp in 2009, and the number has risen each year. Now, there are 65 children ready for summer 2016. As attendance has grown, so has the need for more space and more facilities in order to grow even more.
What do campers do during a typical day at A-Camp?
CV: A-Camp accepts all autism challenges and allows campers the rare opportunity to experience a traditional, fun summer camp while meeting each child’s individual needs. A typical day at A-Camp is full of exploration, discovery and adventure. Campers participate in outdoor activities such as swimming, nature hikes and fishing. Campers use their imaginations and spark creativity while at play and through art projects. Campers stay active with yoga, playground time and sports. Memorable friendships are built as they interact with each other and their buddies (typically developing peers) throughout the day. Each camper's growth is celebrated daily and fun abounds each week with new relational, recreational and sensory experiences.
What can attendees look forward to at Camp 4 A-Cause?
CV: The party will include an entertaining program hosted by KATV’s Barry Brandt, an outdoor dinner, s'mores, beer/wine, a signature “s’moretini,” prizes, camp games and music and dancing provided by Big Stack.
Camper Superstars will be camping out overnight at the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas in North Little Rock. Their campsite registration only includes a campsite and a tent, so in order to get more supplies (like their sleeping bag and pillow), the campers will have to raise money to “buy” them at the Camp Store. They’ll gather donations before the event and rally their friends, family and co-workers through calls and social media during the event. The more money the Superstars raise, the more luxuries they can “buy" for their night under the stars. On-site competition will be hot!
At 9 p.m., the Camper with the most money raised earns a luxury campsite upgrade. Once the party is over, the Camper Superstars spend a relaxing night under the stars.
Why is what A-Camp does important?
CV: According to the CDC, the rate of autism prevalence in children in the state of Arkansas is 1 in 83 and the national rate is 1 in 68. A-Camp is working to break down barriers, change perceptions and change tomorrow for kids with autism, their families, their peers, and the communities in which they will thrive by providing awesome therapeutic camps that empower our participants, promote growth, and increase acceptance to kids right here in Central Arkansas.