Although Camp Encourage has grown a lot since its first year and provides more opportunities to provide encouragement outside of summer camp with the addition of the two OVERNIGHT (mini camp) sessions, we believe our campers deserve even more. In a recent survey, 100% of Camp Encourage parents indicated that they would like to see their camper continue connections outside of camp and 100% stated that they want their camper to continue to hear the same positive messages embedded at Camp Encourage. However, very few campers had connected with another camper outside of camp.

Camp Encourage developed a plan to change this and thanks to our supporters, cost effective CONNECTIONS, or well-designed and structured social opportunities tailored to support campers with ASD, are now available. With quality evidence-based supports and trained professionals, campers will gather, connect, grow, be encouraged, and learn from one another in a family-like, accepting atmosphere in the greater Kansas City area. Activities will vary but the messages will be clear:

You are enough, you are capable, you are worthy, and you are loved.

Click on each tab below for a description of the upcoming CONNECTIONS outings.

Registration is currently open. Unlike our camp sessions, a lottery will not occur and slots will fill on an as-registered-and-accepted basis. For those that have already submitted as 2019 online application, visit HERE for helpful tips on how to proceed. For those that have not applied, please complete an application HERE.

Note: Be sure to read through the helpful details below.



Water Works Park in Olathe provides a lovely lake with easy access for fishing from the shore. Participants will fish with support, be provided breaks as needed, and will participate in structured activities within the park. This activity will be an extension of a recreational activity learned at camp. Participants will increase their independent skills and socialize with others who share their interest in fishing. A meal and drinks will be included (sandwiches and water).

Helpful Details:

  • Poles and bait will be provided. Should you prefer to bring your own pole, please let us know in advance. 
  • All fishing is catch and release.
  • Attendees will need to wear close toed shoes and dress for the weather.
  • Bring or wear sunscreen and bug spray as needed.
  • A shelter is reserved and there are portable restroom facilities at the park.
  • A life vest can be sent with each participant, if preferred. They will not be provided.

Note: Participants over the age of sixteen will need (at minimum) a one day fishing permit. Should those 16 and over not already have a license, you may purchase one at Wal-Mart or online at


Water Works Park
610 S. Curtis Street
Olathe, Kansas 66061


11am to 2pm

Team Building / Low Ropes Challenge Course

The Outdoor Adventures of Kansas (OAK) Challenge Course involves a combination of group initiatives and outdoor elements. Its focus is to overcome puzzling outdoor activities through physical and communicative cooperation to facilitate team building, self-awareness, and confidence building in a fun and engaging environment. Each course is tailored to the needs and objectives of the participating group with designated periods of debrief after the accomplishment of each activity.

Attendees should wear long pants and closed toe shoes. It may also be helpful to bring a small backpack, bug spray, sunscreen, and a water bottle. THIS LIABILITY FORM must be completed and brought upon arrival.

Breaks and snacks will be provided.


Tall Oaks Camp and Conference Center
12778 189th Street
Linwood, Kansas 66052


10:30am to 1:30pm

Art Based Self-Esteem Activity led by Kristi Loftus and Kora Lyon (developed by Jaime Lyon of In Joy, Inc.)

This activity will bring together concepts learned at camp and will provide time for reflection and creativity while re-instilling those ideas of "I Am Enough." Dinner will be provided.


Timothy Lutheran Church
425 RD Mize Rd
Blue Springs, MO 64015


5:00 to 8:00pm


Prior to bowling, campers will gather at a nearby pizza restaurant to connect and enjoy dinner together. They will then walk to the (very) nearby bowling alley as a group.

This activity involves both physical and social components of bowling, such as turn taking and sportsmanship. Participants will need to wear or bring socks and know their own shoe size in order to obtain their bowling shoes. A small snacks and drink will be available at the bowling alley as well. 


Olathe East Bowling Lanes
303 N. Lindenwood
Olathe, KS 66022


12:30 to 4pm



Each outing is $30 and must be paid once notified of acceptance. This cost includes all activities, all food and beverage, and quality staff support (with a ratio of 1 youth: 3 adults). Scholarships are available for our overnight camps but not for the Connections outing as each Connections outing is greatly discounted.

What to Expect

Structured outings in the greater Kansas City area will be provided to allow time to connect and share joy while under the supervision of encouraging, trained staff. Details regarding each scheduled outing can be found within the above tabs.

Examples of future outings may include outdoor adventures, attending a play or other performance, swimming, bowling, attending a sporting event, visiting the zoo, participating in board games, and much more. Should you or your camper have any suggestions, please contact our Program Coordinator. Our campers often have THE best ideas!


Campers and Peer Model Campers, between the age of 8 and 18, that have already attended Camp Encourage within two years of the scheduled Connections activity are eligible to attend. The intention of involving already-attending campers is that the staff is familiar with each camper's unique needs and because we hope to further enrich the lives of those attending Camp Encourage by keeping them engaged in the messages and surrounding them more regularly with encouragement.

A Camper Application must already be submitted through our new online registration system so that we have all updated information.

Programming Focus

We hold the same beliefs that: every person with an ASD is an individual; is capable of great things; is deserving of individualized, research-based supports; and flourishes in a supportive and encouraging environment. We understand that each camper has his or her own interests, motivators, strengths, and areas for need of support and growth. Although individualized supports are provided as needed and although there will be additional focused objectives within each outing, many of the activities, just like during our overnight camp sessions, aim to achieve the following set of general goals:

  • increasing skills of independence
  • enhancing one's self-esteem
  • increasing personal self-understanding and acceptance
  • increasing social abilities
  • widening awareness of recreation opportunities and skills of recreation
  • connecting with others with similar interests, needs, and/or abilities
Ages Targeted

Just as with our overnight camps, Connections are focused on those between the age of 8 and 18 at the time of the service. Because only 15 campers will be able to attend each outing, ages and genders will vary. Camp Encourage feels it is important to have the diverse group with the idea that we are a family. We have found that when in a nurturing, encouraging environment, youth of all ages support and learn from one another and despite age differences, connect and form family-like relationships. It's a space of belonging—a place where you're accepted and loved.


Each camper participating in the Connections activities must be transported to the outing location as no transportation will be provided. Specific drop off and pick up details will be provided once the participant has been officially accepted and offered a slot to join the goodness.


Kristi Loftus and Sandy Smith who have been with Camp Encourage since the early years are developing and overseeing each Connections outing. In addition to their expertise (which you can read about here), we have selected some of our top-notch, always-present supporters that have been at camp for years in the role of a Counselor or Group Leader. We wanted to ensure quality services while also making sure that familiar faces were abundant and consistent leadership were present.