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Typical Day
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Summer Fun at Talisman ProgramsEvery activity at Talisman Camps is designed for fun as well as hands-on learning. In the morning, campers complete their personal hygiene routine and chores with the help of a morning checklist. They emerge from their newly renovated cabins at 8:15 a.m. for morning group, where they set goals and discuss the schedule for the day. By pre-processing what to expect, our campers feel less anxious and are prepared for success.

After a healthy breakfast that is prepared with our campers’ unique nutritional needs in mind, the kids embark on a full day of activities and learning. We offer three distinct types of camps – campus-based, adventure-based, and mixed academic and activities – each with its own focus and schedule as described below.

Whether campers spent the day on campus, off campus or in school, everyone enjoys dinner and an evening group meeting, where they review their goals and address any issues that came up during the day. Campers then join in on evening activities such as a “disco night” dance, hands-free ice cream eating contest or dress-your-staff fashion show.

Personal time is also scheduled at the end of the day so that campers can enjoy some non-social time in their cabins to read, write letters home, play card games, and decompress after a long day of excitement and learning. As the day winds down, campers go through a structured nighttime routine and get a good night’s sleep so that they wake refreshed for another day of camp fun.

Typical Daily Schedule at Talisman Camps

7:00: Rise and Shine
7:15: Morning Routine
7:30: Cabin Cleanup
8:15: Morning Group
8:30: Breakfast
9:45: Morning Activity
12:15: Lunch Group
12:30: Lunch
1:30: Downtime
2:30: Afternoon Activities
5:15: Dinner Group
5:30: Dinner
6:45: Evening Activity
8:15: Evening Group
8:30: Nighttime Routine
9:15: Flashlight Time
9:30: Lights Out

Campus-Based Camps
In the morning and afternoon, campers participate in traditional summer camp activities with a twist. For example, “arts and crafts” may take the form of kickball art, where campers have the opportunity to get messy with washable, non-toxic paint, balls and poster board.

Theme events like carnival day and medieval festivals are another camp favorite. After all, it’s not every day that kids get to submerge their staff in a dunk booth or transform the dining hall into a historic roundtable.

Before and after every activity, the staff leads a processing group so that in addition to having tons of fun, campers can practice self-regulation, express themselves in positive ways, and develop independent living, conflict resolution and social skills. All camp activities are highly structured and supervised by staff that has, on average, three times more training than traditional summer camps. In order to minimize transitions and maximize social skill development, campers spend the majority of their days living, playing and dining with the same peer group.

Adventure-Based Camps
All of our expedition-style camps have a unique focus, whether backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking or whitewater kayaking in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding areas. Prior to each off-campus trip, campers learn the camping, social and communication skills they will need to be successful. We offer detailed instruction on how to read maps, set up tarps, row canoes and accomplish other tasks before the group departs so that each camper knows what to expect.

When the campers return to Talisman, we celebrate their arrival with pizza, movies and a few days of process groups. Even while they’re exploring the wilderness, campers follow a consistent morning and evening routine and participate in processing sessions throughout the day.

Academic Camps
Campers participate in a blend of academics and favorite camp activities. Our experienced teachers help children with learning disabilities, ADHD and Asperger’s develop study skills, learn appropriate classroom behavior and work toward specific academic goals. When campers aren’t in the classroom or studying, they participate in all of the festivities occurring around camp, such as campouts, rock climbing, tree climbing, high ropes course, whitewater rafting, arts and crafts, and swimming.

Setting Campers Up for Success

Consistent Morning/Evening Routine: A fun camp experience starts with a good night’s sleep. A study performed by the Douglas Mental Health University Institute shows that many children suffering from ADHD may also be chronically sleep deprived and have sporadic REM sleep patterns. A predictable routine and environment that is conducive to healthy sleep habits gives campers a positive start.

Posted Schedules: Because many children with autism spectrum disorders are visual thinkers, Talisman uses chore charts, activity charts and individual checklists to guide campers through their morning and evening routines.

Process Groups: Setting aside time to prepare campers for what to expect each day, set goals and resolve issues promotes a positive peer culture and helps children get accustomed to giving and receiving feedback. Group process is a practical and engaging way of helping campers develop social, problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.

Healthy Living: Our emphasis on healthy living, including balanced nutrition, exercise and healthy sleep habits, reduces ADHD symptoms and improves behavior.

Experiential Learning: Children with ADHD and Asperger’s benefit from hands-on learning and social skill practice. Being active much of the day in a natural, outdoors environment helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression – and is a whole lot of fun!