In Parents’ Own Words – Friendship

At the end of the summer of 2019, 97.6% of parents who responded to our survey said that they would recommend Camp Kodiak to a friend. In addition to filling out the survey, over 50 people opted to leave comments to be used as testimonials about the work we do at Kodiak. Last week, I wrote a blog post compiling some of the testimonials about campers’ confidence and self-esteem after a summer at camp. Today’s blog is a collection of parent comments about their camper’s friendships and social skills building at Camp Kodiak.

“There is something so amazing, as a parent, to arrive not sure what to expect when picking up your child and discover their growth in confidence and connections they formed. I was greeted for the first time ever with my daughter excitedly wanting to introduce me to friends and people she has enjoyed over the summer. This was the start of noticing wonderful transformations that most would find subtle, yet as her parent I found profound. Introductions, reciprocal conversation, confidence and beaming with shared stories with friends. Later as the weeks went on at home, I noticed more skills that had been displayed naturally and are now being integrated into her daily routine (related to understanding and responding to unwritten social rules, conversations, and organization). I am grateful as all my daughter talks about is the amazing people she has met from all over and her newest memories and proudest moments.”

“I think having my son attend Kodiak was one of the best experiences of his short life. He got a chance to interact with individuals just like him. There are some struggles emotionally and with self-expression. Seeing other people like himself made it possible for new connections at a higher level. There really are no words that can describe the learning that happens in a safe environment away from your parents. Thank you Kodiak and all the staff for everything you did for my little one.”

“This was our child’s first year at Camp Kodiak. We were nervous at first because our daughter has never been away for more than an overnight and has had challenges making friends that accepted her. Picking up our daughter from Camp Kodiak, we couldn’t have been more pleased. Not only did she have a great time, she came back more self-sufficient, and with obvious friendships made during the summer that I think will continue to grow. Camp Kodiak offered her a loving and inviting experience that she’s already eager to come back to. What else can a parent ask for!”

“My son loves Camp Kodiak. He has gone there (all the way from Florida) for 3 summers in a row. He feels good about himself there and has made many friends. His goal is to become a counselor there. We are so happy that he can go to a place where we know he fits in and is valued & appreciated by all the campers and wonderful staff members. We highly recommend the Camp Kodiak experience to everyone with a child on the spectrum.”

“My daughter had an amazing experience at Camp Kodiak. As soon as she got off the bus she told us, ‘Camp was fun! I loved it so much! I want to go for the whole summer next year.’ Our daughter learned to become more independent and tried many activities that she would never attempt at home. Most importantly, she made close friends for the first time in her life. Thank you, Camp Kodiak, for helping us to find our daughter’s home away from home!”

Social success is one of the most important goals our parents have for their children. Many tell us stories about school experiences where their children just don’t quite fit in, where inclusion efforts hadn’t considered their child’s social needs. Some of our campers have trouble meeting people and making friends; others hang onto their friends so tightly that they smother the relationships. More than almost anything else, our parents tell us that they want their children to be accepted, to learn appropriate social skills, and hopefully to make true, reciprocal friendships. 

At the final campfire of the summer, we invite campers to share their thoughts about their experiences at Camp Kodiak—what they learned, how they grew, and what they are proud of. So often, they talk about finding their “people” at camp. Being around other children who have experienced some of the same struggles and have some of the same fears made it easier to truly be themselves and to make real friends. What a joy it is to listen to these young people talk about camp this way!

If your family has yet to experience the magic of Camp Kodiak first-hand, go to our website ( and fill out an application to get started on making friends in the summer of 2020.

About the Author

Shari Stoch

Shari has worked at Camp Kodiak since it began in 1991. She has been the Academic Director since 2010, and is one of the Camp Directors. During the year, Shari works for the Peel District School Board as a special education teacher. She earned her Masters of Education from Queen’s University.