The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

Camp Aardvark: Bringing Developmental Disabilities into the Reed Arena

Camp Aardvark, the brainchild of Alice Alsup and Gabriel Forsythe-Korzeniewicz ’12, is an effort to bring Reed into alliance with Portland’s developmental disability community. Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz plan to run a one day camp for children with developmental disabilities on the facilities of the Autistic Children’s Activities Program (ACAP) late this semester. Camp Aardvark has undergone many changes since its conception because of challenges of approval through the Student Activities Office (SAO).

Camp Aardvark was originally to occur over several Saturdays on Reed Campus. That plan was altered recently when Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz discovered that the SAO declined to fund the program, in part because of the short notice that they would have had to get it off the ground. Determined to continue the project, Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz ventured off campus in order to find an organization that would support their project and offer its grounds for the camp. ACAP turned out to be the place, with additional support from the Austistic Society of Oregon (ASO). The camp this semester will allow Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz to develop a template for next year when the camp might become more associated with Reed College. Forsythe-Korzeniewicz said, “We want to bring Reed more into this as it becomes more of a solidified camp and provide it resources. For now it’s going to be mostly under the name of ACAP and the ASO. A little bit further down the line were going to ask the SAO again if they would be willing to put Reed’s name on it.”

Since they will not be enrolled at Reed next semester, Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz are seeking younger students interested in continuing the camp next year and in bringing it onto Reed campus. Alsup said, “We want to find leadership potential for this camp to work at the day-long program this year.” Those students should contact Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz in order to become involved in the camp’s trial run late this semester.

Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz came together last semester when they created Reed Disability Advocacy and Outreach alongside Erin Appleby ’14. Together they received the MRC New Voices Grant, for which Camp Aardvark was intended to be a flagship project. Since the project was declined, at least temporarily, by the SAO, Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz have been doing outreach and networking within the developmental disability community in Portland, which has included sitting in on a Special Education classroom in order to gain an understanding of how such lessons are organized.

Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz stressed how much Reed could gain from adding a dimension of developmental disability outreach to SEEDS. Alsup and Forsythe-Korzeniewicz explained that both sides could benefit from such an alliance. They envision a future in which Reed opens its doors to developmental disability events and, in turn, Reed students have accessible avenues into Oregon developmental disability organizations. In fact, Alsup said, “One thing we hope to do this year to connect people to disabilities activities is to have a fair for volunteers with disabilities ideas and to connect those programs with federal work study programs.”

If interested students are willing to join in now and take up the reins next year, Camp Aardvark might be a huge step in bringing developmental disabilities into Reed’s volunteering sector, and even into student dialogue.

Interested in helping out with Camp Aardvark? Contact:

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