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 will soon open. Unlike our camp sessions, a lottery will not occur and slots will fill on an as-registered-and-accepted basis.

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. A meal and drinks will be included.

Note: Participants over the age of sixteen will need (at minimum) a one day fishing permit.


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


(to soon be finalized)

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 fo 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.

Breaks and snacks will be provided.


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


9am to 12:30pm

Art Based Self-Esteem Activity with 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. Details regarding the structured art activity Jaime has in store will be released soon.


Peppermint Sea Studio
5915 Johnson Drive
Mission, Kansas 66202


We will have another CONNECTIONS activity in late 2019. The details are in the works! Stay tuned, friends.



Each outing is $30 and must be paid one week prior to the scheduled outing. 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.