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Kaz’s Bridge to Independent Living

Kaz holding a frog showing off his catch from the pond at Camp Sno-Mo
Kaz showing off his catch from the pond at Camp Sno-Mo

What’s there to get excited about at Easterseals New Hampshire’s Camp Sno-Mo? Teen camper Kaz might say catching frogs, reading books in the library, or having meals with fellow campers in the dining hall. His mom, Alicia, has a few more things add to the list.

Kaz’s first weeks at Camp Sno-Mo in 2019 were “a huge experience and accomplishment,” Alicia says. “A bridge to independent living.”

It has been hard for the family to find opportunities for Kaz to spend time away from home because of his special needs.

“Camp has been a confidence builder. These weeks have been like baby steps to a longer-term plan of independent living.”

Kaz’s Mom, Alicia

Alicia points out that what made the biggest contribution to Kaz’s positive experience at camp was his counselor, Berty Taylor. Kaz, who was 14 at the time he attended camp, has moderate-to-severe autism. “He can be hyperactive,” Alicia says. “He doesn’t connect with other kids easily.” She not only requested direct (one-to-one) care for Kaz, but asked the camp director to personally assign Kaz a counselor who would be an ideal fit. “I wanted it to be someone who would be flexible, easygoing, and happy,” she says.

Camp Sno-Mo met her expectations with Berty. “I can’t say enough about Kaz’s counselor. He’s a very special person.” Alicia appreciates that Kaz was cared for in a way that gave her much-needed respite time while Kaz was away.

Kaz’s counselor was able to modify camp activities so Kaz could always participate. For example, Alicia says, “Kaz has a hard time with using his hands, so archery might be difficult. But he would still enjoy watching it or handing someone else a bow.” Because of Kaz’s one-to-one care, he and his counselor could deviate from the main camp schedule and do what felt good for Kaz at any given time.

The impact camp has had for Kaz in the short time he was there was evident to Alicia. “Kaz connected with children and adults,” she says, “He enjoyed the company and having people around him.” Kaz looks forward to making a return trip to Camp Sno-Mo.

Interested in Camp Sno-Mo?

Learn more about the activities offered at Camp Sno-Mo, and how to sign up.