by Allison Haver
KAMPN, or Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature, is a nonprofit which provides opportunities for children with autism and their families to experience and reap the many benefits nature offers.
The organization, started by Deep Gap resident Jim Taylor and his wife, Sue, aims to provide a fun and relaxing retreat for families whose daily lives may not always be that calm.
The camp, which is set on more than 25 acres of land on Wildcat Ridge Road in Deep Gap and opened last July, was initially a weeklong residential camp.
The weeklong experience proved to be a little too long for families, according to feedback Taylor received.
"The parents thought last year that it was really too much for a week, and it really was," Taylor said.
This year, KAMPN is offering options for a two-night overnight camping experience or a one night event for participants.
According to Taylor, there are only a couple of slots remaining for the two-night options that will take place during selected weekends.
Taylor said several one-night slots are available for interested families, as well. The one-night camping option will take place during the week, on either a Tuesday or Wednesday.
"This is an excellent opportunity for local families," Taylor said of the one-night option.
Taylor began planning for the camp more than two years ago and secured nonprofit status in May 2011.
Despite experiencing a lot of rain last year, Taylor said KAMPN served several families and is excited to serve even more this year.
Last year, the camp hosted two families at one time and this year four families will experience the camping trip together.
"With four families at a time over seven sessions we will be able to serve 28 families this summer," he said.
Because of the expansion, Taylor, along with two interns from Appalachian State University, Tommy Spagnolo and Lee Wilson, are in the process of building two extra tent platforms to provide space for all of the families.
"Initially, we were going to try to build small cabins, but ended up with going with tents, and the parents loved it, because that's camping," Taylor said.
Spagnolo, who is a senior parks and recreation major, and Wilson, who is a senior sustainability and special education major, are also in the process of completing a sensory trail, which will be apart of the children's activities.
Other camp activities include as wading in Wildcat Creek, fishing and hiking and art therapy.
The participating families have the chance to intermingle with one another, giving the children an opportunity to make new friends.
According to Taylor, the camp not only serves the children with autism, but also their families.
"They get as much out of it as the children do," Taylor said.
KAMPN's mission is to provide an option rarely available for families having children with autism to experience activities in nature.
The organization provides a program for the child and family, as well as an opportunity for the interaction of the families during each session.
In addition, students participating from universities will benefit by working with the children and families under the supervision of trained staff and university personnel, he said.
For more information about KAMPIN, call Taylor at (828) 264-0054 or email (email@example.com)