Matt found a passion in a place he hadn’t expected – the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support.
Three years ago, if you told me that I would be spending my summers working at Camp Kinney, I wouldn’t have believed you. I am a biology major and never had any experience working with kids prior to the Kinney Center. However, I knew that my sister had had positive experiences from working with kids with special needs and a friend recommended that I apply to the Kinney Center.
Now, after two summers of working at Camp Kinney, I can say that I have a true passion for serving the autism community. I now have my own experiences to learn from and can express them throughout my life in everything that I do. Camp Kinney is a wonderful experience that has a positive impact on everyone involved. The learners are able to interact with their peers and the staff by practicing their social skills in many different types of activities. The SCHOLARS (Students Committed to Helping Others Learn about Autism Research and Support) who work with the kiddos throughout the summer learn just as much as the kids do. SCHOLARS are there to assist the learners through troubled areas throughout the day and also to interact and have fun. After all, it is a summer camp!
The typical day at Camp Kinney includes many different activities for the learners to participate in. Some of the activities are DIY art projects, group games, swimming, science and social skills lessons. Throughout the five weeks of camp, all these activities allow the learners to interact with each other and work on their individual skills or goals, such as gaining independence in shoe tying or acting appropriately during activities. Certain activities and learner goals will go hand in hand with their age group. Camp Kinney has six different age groups for the students to attend and during each week of camp, there are between 5-12 campers in each group.
Camp Kinney was an amazing way to spend my summer. It truly widened my horizon about kids on the autism spectrum and showed me how smart and capable these boys and girls are. And every time I saw a learner smile and get excited for completing a task correctly it absolutely just made my day. Camp Kinney is one of the best decisions that I’ve made here at St. Joe’s and I couldn’t imagine spending my last two summers doing anything else.
Matt Stuart ’17 is a Biology major from New Tripoli, PA. When he’s not at the Kinney Center, you can find him playing Club Lacrosse or Club Volleyball, participating in Collegiate Challenge, or jamming out to country music on APEX.