In a cabin tucked away in the mountains of North Jersey, a small group of Eden students spend their morning working on daily living skills. One student is practicing communication skills by getting his teacher’s attention, while another student is busy sorting.
But unlike a traditional school day, these students will soon change into their bathing suits to spend their afternoon swimming in the pool.
The students are enjoying their time at Eden’s summer residential program, Eden at Crossroads. The program looks a bit different this year as safeguards against the coronavirus remain in place. Students are attending for a shorter time period with fewer students attending the program each week, and staff are required to wear masks.
The program itself may be smaller this year, but it’s still having a big impact on students. The 24/7 access to teachers and ABA helps them live more independently once they return home. Eden at Crossroads allows students to not just learn, but relax and have fun in a safe environment.
“We get to see the kids in a different way than we do at school,” said Todd Garner, Program Support Manager. “Up here, they’re able to be on vacation and relax and enjoy the activities. We still have school, but they’re able to be kids up here instead of students with autism.”
Todd grew up spending his summer at the Crossroads camp. He saw the Eden students enjoying their program and knew he wanted to get involved. He started volunteering as a teenager, and eventually got a job working at Eden once he graduated from high school.
“It’s just a fantastic program, and Eden does so much good for the kids,” he said. “I think our program is one of a kind.”
During their week-long stay at Eden at Crossroads, students enjoy outdoor activities, arts and crafts, lots of games, and themed days such as cartoon day, superhero day, and color war day where teams compete in various activities. Their parents also get to enjoy their own vacations or time at home knowing their child is safe and being cared for.