A summer camp for children with autism in Halifax is hoping to expand, but organizers say it needs more funding first. The Ben James Summer Camp needs a permanent home. Currently, 15 kids come each week. All of the children get their own councillor.

‘We need this, times ten. We need this at March break. We need this at Christmas time.’ – Kerry Houghton

Kids go on day trips to swim in a nearby lake, as well as taking part in bowling and basketball events. Cynthia Carroll, executive director of Autism Nova Scotia, wants a permanent home for the camp. Now, it moves to the cheapest facilities each year. The camp runs on donations. “Just in Halifax, we support sixty children, with twenty families on the waiting list,” she said.

“The list would probably be longer, but families lose hope when you get to number twenty. This camp could definitely serve hundreds of children across the province.” Councillors like Jeremy Conrad give up their summers to work here, despite the low pay. “It’s such a great, positive experience. They are great; they just want to have fun and do great things in the summer and we want to give the best experience at camp for that reason,” he said.

One-on-one is important

Kerry Houghton said it’s perfect for her son Lex. “Just to know he is with a one-on-one person that understands autism and that I know he is going to be safe. It’s not a regular day camp so I know there are professionals,” she said. “We need this, times ten. We need this at March break. We need this at Christmas time. We need it.” Halifax may integrate the camp into other city-run camps. Meanwhile, the camp hopes donations increase.

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