ABOUT CAMP ENCOURAGE

MISSION

Our mission is to encourage social growth, independence, and self-esteem in youth with autism spectrum disorder through a quality, overnight camp experience located in the greater Kansas City area.

VALUES

WE BELIEVE

that every person with an autism spectrum disorder:

is an individual

is capable of great things

is deserving of individualized, research-based supports and flourishes in a supportive and encouraging environment.

WE BELIEVE

in the power of positive peer models and the great impact sharing this experience with their peers with ASD will have on them after they leave camp.

the experience of a quality, overnight camp is invaluable to all involved.

that quality supports and services should be available to all campers, regardless of financial need.

OUR STORY

Camp Encourage was founded by Kaye Otten, Ph.D. and Kelly Lee, M.S.Ed. in 2007 due to the community expressing a dire need for a quality overnight camp opportunity for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and due to their leadership in a similar camp in the Kansas City area. The initial camp session was held in 2008 and provided a camp experience for 36 local children. Following the session, the organization received a flooding of positive feedback. Interest grew rapidly despite little marketing and recruitment. By 2011, nearly 100 youth from Missouri and Kansas between the age of eight and eighteen were placed on a waiting list following a lottery for acceptance. In anticipation of the continued growth, the Camp Encourage Board of Directors had developed a strategic plan and was planning for the development of a second camp session. In 2012, services more than doubled—providing two sessions of camp and allowing space for 86 campers.

As interest continues to grow and as the rates for ASD continue to increase, growth will again be occurring in 2017. We will be welcoming campers and volunteers to weekend overnight sessions and are eager to see what the future will bring. Growth challenges include recruiting quality volunteers to support the needs of additional campers while also providing increased scholarship funds to meet the needs of the high percentage of applicants that seek and deserve financial support.

STAFF

Kelly Lee, M.S.Ed.

Kelly Lee, M.S.Ed.

Co-Founder, Executive Director

Kelly received an undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in Special Education (K through 12) and a master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in autism and Asperger syndrome from the University of Kansas. Past experiences include teaching, serving as an Autism Education Consultant, designing and facilitating social development groups, and serving as a summer camp counselor and director.

Alissa Workman, MPA

Alissa Workman, MPA

Development Director

Alissa received both a B.A. in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Missouri — Kansas City. Alissa has always had a passion for children/youth, the environment, and connecting the two together. She joined the Camp Encourage “family” in 2010 as a volunteer first, a Board member, and then as the Development Director in 2012.

Sandy Smith, M.S.Ed.

Sandy Smith, M.S.Ed.

Behavior Specialist

Sandy earned an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Special Education in the area of Behavior Disorders (K-9). She has taught for 37 years in the field of special education and currently teaches in the Gardner-Edgerton School District. While working on her master’s degree at Kansas University, she worked as a graduate assistant in one of the University’s very early teacher training programs in the area of autism.

MEGAN BYRNE, M.S.Ed.

MEGAN BYRNE, M.S.Ed.

Lead Program Associate

Starting her studies at Northwest Missouri State University, Megan earned her undergraduate degree in Special Education Cross Categorical (K-12) and Elementary Education (1-6). She then received her Master in Special Education emphasis in Autism from the University of Kansas. She has taught Special Education in the North Kansas City School District for 5 years and currently teaches in one of the Autism Programs in the Blue Springs School District.

KRISTI LOFTUS, M.S.Ed.

KRISTI LOFTUS, M.S.Ed.

Behavior Specialist

Kristi earned her undergraduate degree in the area of Psychology and Behavioral Health from MidAmerica Nazarene University. After having the opportunity to work at the school within Kids TLC in Olathe KS, she found a passion for dealing with behavioral needs and at risk youth within the classroom. She completed a Master in both High and Low Functioning Autism followed by a Master in Special Education (K-12) though Pittsburg State University. Kristi currently works for the Olathe Public Schools running one of their Alternative Education Programs that serves a variety of levels and needs.

SARA HARMS

SARA HARMS

Events Coordinator

Sara is the mother of a camper and a past peer model camper, as well as a long-time supportive fan of Camp Encourage. She has a passion for dreaming up fun and meaningful fundraising events and has been putting her skills to work with local not for profit organizations in Kansas City for the past 8 years. After serving as a volunteer for the first CE Movie event, she was hooked and has enjoyed working with Alissa to grow and improve upon the event each year. Sara, her husband, and three children excitedly look forward to helping with Carnival Night at camp each summer and consider the Camp Encourage community to be part of their extended family.

KATHERINE WILLIAMS

KATHERINE WILLIAMS

Data Entry Operator

Kate is currently studying for her BS in Computer Science at UMKC. She loves working with computers, and is learning a lot at the Camp Encourage offices! She graduated with honors from Shawnee Mission South High School, and intends to become a software engineer or database specialist.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS


STEPHANIE BOND

MARKETING COMMITTEE CHAIR

Management Consultant
Parent of a child on the autism spectrum

ELIZABETH BORESOW, MT-BC

SECRETARY

Music Therapist, Piano Teacher, Math Tutor; High Five
Adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder

LEIGH GRUBER Ed.D.

ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIR

Director of Special Services; Harrisonville School District

JENNY HINES

BOARD PRESIDENT

Realtor; Keller Williams Realty Partners
Parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum

DAVID KEMPFE

TREASURER, FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIR

Benefit and Planning Counselor; Principal Financial Group

SARAH NORTH

FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE CHAIR

Founder; CAUSE:CORP Consulting
Marketing, Fundraising, and Event Planning Consultant: Creative Outreach Consulting

SARAH OTTO, M.Ed., M.P.A.

Targeted Case Manager; Case Management Services, Inc.
Adjunct Professor; UMKC School of Special Education

JOHN D. TONGIER

Principal; Law Offices of John D. Tongier, LLC

ADVISORY BOARD


KATHERINE E. COOK, Ph.D.

Autism Specialist; Olathe School District

MICHELLE LONG, CPA

Accountant and Owner; Long for Success, LLC

KAYE OTTEN, Ph.D.

CO-FOUNDER OF CAMP ENCOURAGE

Assistant Professor of Special Education; University of Central Missouri

RICHARD SIMPSON, Ph.D.

Retired, Professor of Special Education; University of Kansas

THERESA VOLLRATH, Ph.D.

Professor of Special Education; University of Central Missouri

INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING OR JOINING OUR BOARD?

Each year, roughly 300 individuals join together and give more than 20,000 hours to make certain that Camp Encourage is a memorable experience for each camper.  Some serve on our Board of Directors; volunteer prior to, during, or following camp; raise funds; and/or prepare the numerous details of planning and providing this overnight opportunity. Without these volunteers and their generous gifts of time and talent, Camp Encourage would not be able to offer our campers the quality experience they deserve. Consider joining the volunteer efforts of Camp Encourage. Many roles are available year round as well as during the sessions of camp. We promise you that your effort will benefit both the campers and YOU!