Home > Family Services > Friendship Ventures, where new friends and new experiences enrich lives!

Friendship Ventures, where new friends and new experiences enrich lives!

This is a blog post by Mary Beth Schleif of Friendship Ventures, a Minnesota organization that offers unique opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy resident camp, respite care and supervised travel. At Friendship Ventures, everybody fits in! Friendship Ventures was a recipient of an Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Grant.

A parent’s perspective

With our three camps in Minnesota, Friendship Ventures provides vital social and recreational enrichment for children, teens and adults with a variety of developmental disabilities, including autism. We hear frequently from parents that camp is a lifesaver – not only for their children but for themselves. Parents Jane and Steve, whose sons both have autism, share their story.

We have twin sons, Michael and Erik, who are both autistic and disabled.  Michael is quite social and was able to attend some of the local camps nearer to us.  Erik, on the other hand, is more of a challenge.  He would feel bad when his brother could go to camp and he was not able.  We found Camp Friendship a few years ago and it has been our “godsend.”  Erik and Michael both LOVE camp and look forward to it every year. 

This would not have been possible without the scholarship we received. As you could well imagine, the camp fee for two children is out of the range of something we could manage on a yearly basis.  It is only with the gifts from generous donors that we are able to send two very happy children to a wonderful and giving camp on a yearly basis.  It truly is the highlight of their summer.

Understanding Disabilities

We are very grateful for the respite camp offers to us as the caregivers.   These weeks at camp have been the most restful for us, as the staff have the experience and the patience to handle everything Erik has been able to dish out!!  In fact, this is the first camp that really understood our children’s disabilities and we did not feel alone.  We used to be called by those who were caring for Erik on nearly a daily basis with problems (which is unnerving when we try to relax). 

The first year at Camp Friendship, we held our breath – when would the call come??  Around the middle of the week, lo and behold, we did get a call – “was there a reason we did not want Erik to go to Dairy Queen?”  We were dumbfounded; no one ever wanted to bring him anywhere!!  We were in 7th heaven and have been coming back since.  The boys talk about camp all year and ask when they are going again.

Our children love this and with scholarship help and continued support, we will look forward to the opportunity for many years to come. 

We at Friendship Ventures work to provide camp activities that are fun and beneficial for every camper. It’s great to hear from the families we serve that we are succeeding!

Click here to read this month’s Community Connections – Stepping Up to Summertime Fun! To learn more about Friendship Ventures, visit www.friendshipventures.org. To learn more about the Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Grant Program, click here

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