Camper – Camp Flying Point
The Flying Point Foundation for Autism
In addition to being certified in art, I have a master’s in special education, specializing in serving individuals with autism.
The very first year of camp, I was the visual arts specialist. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Planning the lessons was simple: keep it about process not product. If the campers are enjoying the materials and the environment, then I was doing my job, and creating something beautiful would be a bonus.
Art is, after all a language. This is why it is able to reach so many without words. Many of our campers are non-verbal yet they are able to follow prompts, be inspired by modeled actions, and respond using hand-over-hand instruction. Simple projects yield brilliant results especially when working together as a group. They love being a part of something bigger.
For my personal journey as an educator and a person who wants to make the world a little more kind, it is the joy that I feel when the campers create something, when they hear the praise for a job well done, when their peers encourage them, or when I see them succeed and feel a sense of self accomplishment. Whether they can voice that or not; it’s palpable, the whole room is charged with it. That is something.
We have bad days, we have struggles, we have little breakdowns. Yet even still, they know they are loved, and we are rooting for them. We are in their corner cheering them on to take that one extra step, that one risk that makes them a tiny bit uncomfortable- a little out of their usual comfort zone: like getting their hands wet with plaster gauze, or sticky with glue or for some even dirty with paint. These little victories are to be celebrated, because the baby steps are what matter, the day to day leaps. The feeling they have when they know they can do it. That feeling is what we strive for…. it ultimately leads to bigger steps, and bigger milestones and it is for this that I am truly grateful, humbled, and honored to walk alongside these amazing young people every summer.
-Deborah Lukasik, art @Camp Flying Point