A Camper's Heartfelt Experience

I attended Camp Firefly every summer since 2010.  After six years of going to camp, it's safe to say that it was the best experience of my life. I don't really think there was a second of camp that I didn't enjoy. Everything about it was amazing; from the great friends I've made to the fun camp activities. It was an unforgettable experience, to say the least.

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What Can Parents Do to Make “The Social Network” a Safer Place for their Children?

The Social Networking Parent

Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr…. These are just a few of the many social media platforms that children and teens use to communicate today. While there are many benefits to being digitally interconnected, there are also many dangers. No parent can possibly keep tabs on everything their children do on social media. However, there are certain measures you can take to help your children use social media more responsibly. But before diving into this subject, let us first briefly review the pros and cons of online social networks.

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Help, Healing and Hope After Loss - “How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies”

I recently read a letter published in the Washington Post by a young widowed father of two named David Creekmore. The letter was written to his deceased wife, Trish, who died three years ago.  Towards the end of this deeply moving letter David wrote “Life’s too short.  I had to lose you to really understand that. You are not forgotten. We move on because we have to, not because we want to.” These words really resonated with me because they speak so powerfully about how the experience of loss can forever change our focus and priorities in life.

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Camp Does the Mind & Body Good

Parents and children alike speak of summer camps with excitement, often reflecting on fond memories from their own experiences.  Summer camps are an opportunity for children of all walks of life to continue to build upon the cognitive, emotional and psychological skills learned throughout the school year. 

Camp Firefly is tailored to the special needs of children, teens, and young adults who struggle in social spheres.  Whether diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Asperger’s, Non-Verbal Learning Disability, Social Anxiety, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or just generally having problems with social communication, then consider Camp Firefly for your child.  The camp offers specialized, therapeutic assistance in boosting self-confidence, engaging with peers effectively, and managing emotional dysregulation within a safe, supported, and fun environment.  At Camp Firefly, youth learn new skills while engaging with like-minded peers.

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Forever Friends: Camp Counselors Share Their Story

“Camp friends are forever friends.” This proverb was the first of many pieces of wisdom passed to us throughout our time as counselors at Camp Firefly.  We were both eager to be counselors, and, like the campers preparing for session, we wondered what our experience had in store for us. Nothing could have prepared us for how rewarding, fun and unforgettable camp was!

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An Empty Chair at the Seder

The Hebrew word “Seder” means order. The Seder evening and Hagada have a framework—a time for talking, a time for ritual foods, a time for dinner, a time for praising God, a time for singing, a time for engaging children, a time for questions and a time to think about possible answers. But the order of the Seder also refers to the non-ritual aspects of the evening. We often have a routine of who comes, who we might invite, where we sit, how we arrange the table, and more. These things can change from year to year, yet they are always present in some form. But what happens when the order is upended? What challenges the sense of order when a loved one who has been a part of our sacred evening is no longer with us. Where is the “seder”—the order—when the Seder has been changed, the order ripped away from us?

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JCFS Programs Working Together to Support At-Risk Moms and Babies

For most newborns and toddlers, routine doctor visits are part of their formative years. At these early wellness check-ups, babies and young children are assessed to see if they are meeting major developmental milestones such as walking and talking.  If a child is diagnosed with a developmental delay, parents and caregivers are provided with available resources that can help improve their child’s condition. 

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First Steps After Receiving an Autism Diagnosis

You have just learned that your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. For some parents, the news comes as a shock, while other parents may have been expecting it. However, almost all parents who receive this diagnosis for their child struggle with reimagining their child’s future with this pervasive developmental disability. You are not alone, and it is normal to feel this way. The important thing to know is that, although there is no known “cure” for autism, there is hope. Your child will be able to learn, grow and gain new skills within their potential. The important first steps are educating yourself about the diagnosis, adjusting the child’s home environment to best meet their needs, and seeking professional therapeutic services.

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Social Thinking at Camp Firefly

At Camp Firefly we have found that the Social Thinking ® approach, developed by Michelle Garcia Winner, has proven to be the most appropriate for our recreational camp therapy model, and best for meeting the needs of our campers.

Social Thinking ® has been described as a way of thinking flexibly about every unique situation and person whom we encounter.  It is not necessarily an approach for teaching basic social skills, but a way to engage a child, teen or adult in initiating and responding to interactions that instill confidence, happiness and success!

The Social Thinking ® approach has various models which help to understand how to tailor strategies for teaching flexible thinking.  One such model is called the ILAUGH ® model.  It is an acronym that describes the skills needed to be successful within social interactions.

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The Divorce Specialty Center at JCFS and The Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois Introduce Low Cost Divorce Program

As the Coordinator of the Divorce Specialty Center at Jewish Child & Family Services, one of my first tasks was to research affordable ways for low-income families to divorce.  I discovered that the services are limited, and to qualify a family has to have a history of domestic violence and/or be very close to poverty.  For those families that make too much money to qualify, but not enough to pay for a divorce, there was nothing available.  Many times couples stay married, often leaving the family in very difficult circumstances.  

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