The Groups

Summer Camp – The Groups

The four groups of the camp exist in order to respect the needs, limits, and potential of each participant. Each participant or youth will be placed into one of the groups depending upon their level of development, and this in order to allow them to make the most of their time at camp. We want to ensure that their experience is a positive one rather than a setback or failure. Thus, through the continuing efforts to respect this objective, we hope to provide the very best support for each participant and their shadow throughout the summer.

The Early Intervention group of Bergamote functions with a ratio of one shadow for each participant. This group is open to participantren five years old and younger.

The Specialized group of Bergamote takes a structured and individualized approach to working on specific aspects of the participant’s development. The group welcomes participantren who require this structure in order to aid their development. While respecting their level of development, we work on the basic requirements necessary for social skill development.

The Socialization group of Bergamote functions with a ratio of one shadow for two participants or two “shadows” for four participants. It is intended for participantren who have already acquired a certain level of autonomy and social skills. The participants work on different aspects of social skill development in order to eventually be integrated into a regular day camp.

The specialized groups of Rock-Camp-Bol function with a ratio of one shadow per participant, and the socialization group functions with one shadow for two participants.  The objectives in this section are more focused on socialization and daily integration in the community.

The Wasabi section welcomes two participants per stay with a ratio of three shadows for two participants.  It was designed to welcome teenagers / young adults with severe behaviour problems for whom group activities hinder their development and integration.

Working Approaches

At camp, we employ functional, developmental and behavioral approaches. The appropriate approach depends upon the needs of each participant and on the types of interventions used at home and at school.

Functional approach:

The objectives of the functional approach are to encourage the participant’s ability to adapt, and to increase their daily independence. We consider the acquisition of communication skills a crucial component for acquiring real independence.

Developmental approach:

When setting up each participants’s intervention plan, we take into account their current abilities, in the hopes of maintaining the skills they’ve already acquired and of fostering new ones. We emphasize having fun, and also try to expand the participant’s repertoire of activities by introducing them to new experiences (games which foster motor ability and visual and audition perception, imitation games, as well as a variety of outings, etc.).

Behavioral approach:

This approach entails the use of modeling techniques to incite participants to develop more appropriate behavior. For example, if a participant pulls on his shadow’s arm because he wants them to open the door, we will help him develop the ability to ask for help in a more appropriate fashion (saying the shadow’s name, using sign language or pictograms).

The intervention plan’s objectives are established in conjunction with each participant’s family and school in order to ensure a continuity in the types of interventions used. This collaborative exchange with parents and educators allows us to learn from each other, and to improve the quality of our interventions. As an outcome, we hope to help each participant maintain their skills and to acquire new ones. We also feel that it is important to emphasize the acquisition of a basic level of autonomy and social skills development, to help reduce isolating behavior, and to stimulate interaction with peers. Through daily activities such as getting dressed or eating lunch, we work on the participant’s autonomy and the development of relationships with others. Even though one of our goals is to incite participants to interact with each other, an individual approach is nevertheless favored. The content of the intervention plan reflects each participant’s strengths and interests in order to incite participation and encourage learning.

The participant’s relationship with their shadow is of central importance. The shadow is their guide and their companion at the same time. They ensure that the participant maintains the skills they’ve already acquired and that they learn new ones. They try to help reduce isolating behaviors, and they encourage all efforts of communication. Through their smile, their voice and their presence, the shadow becomes a partner in exploration and play.


The Early Intervention group of Bergamote receives around 16 participantren (3 to 5 years old) during the summer. Its aim is to develop each participant’s potential and to prevent the negative consequences which can result from delays in their development of functional capacities.

Our goal is also to support families, and provide respite along with helpful intervention suggestions. We work on the overall development of the participant, more particularly on the development of appropriate behavior according to the age and needs of the participant, as well as of their family. We work on the development of communication, language, autonomy, socialization, and cognitive and motor skills.

The one to one ratio provides for an individualized approach that encourages autonomy and community integration, and allows for the development of activities that are adapted to each participant’s needs. We try to awaken the participantren to their environment and to foster interaction with their peers.

Establishing an intervention plan based on the goals outlined above gives us the opportunity to work with families and to suggest new intervention techniques. The broadening of each participant’s abilities enables the acquisition of prerequisites for entry into school or daycare.


The three Specialized groups of Bergamote receive around 48 participants (5 to 15 years old) during the summer. Through its 1 to 1 ratio, these groups offer a more structured environment which permits for learning gains to occur. Every participant has the chance to experience new adventures guided by a relationship of support with their shadow.  The camp offers a structured and stimulating environment, and activities which reflect the level of development of each participant.


The Socialization group of Bergamote receives 22 participants (5 to 15 years old) during the summer.  We consider that one of the main objectives for participantren with pervasive developmental disorder is integration into their community. Through contact with their peers and other social activities, participants work on developing appropriate behaviours for community life.

We define socialization as the process whereby one internalizes the elements of one’s surrounding culture and participate actively in social life. Since 1993, the Socialization group has had this goal. To achieve this, small sub-groups made up of two participantren for one shadow or four participantren and two shadows are formed. Each participant has one particular shadow who looks after them, but they are encouraged to interact with the others in their group in order to work on their social skills.

The participantren chosen for the Socialization group are those that are fairly independent, and who already show an interest in and an ability to communicate with others. The group aims to eventually integrate its participants into regular day camps.  To this end, we hope that after having developed an important relationship with his or her shadow, the participant will take an interest in his or her peers and thereby work on social skill development. All forms of community integration, in parks and public places, are incorporated in this process.

Within these broader objectives lie more specific goals such as the development of a feeling of belonging in a group and the ability to share and compromise, the acquisition of appropriate ways to express needs and desires, and the development of proper ways of communicating with others. Group activities, cooperative games and daily routines involving interaction with others enable this to happen. By providing a secure environment, one adapted to their needs, we hope to guarantee a positive and enriching group experience for all participants.


The three groups of Rock-Camp-Bol receive around 40 participants (14 to 24 years old) during the summer. The philosophy of the teenagers / young adults with PDD group is similar to that of the Socialization group – to provide a structured group experience which encourages socialization.

Being in a transition phase (14 to 24 years of age), we orient the activities of the participants in order to respond to their developing maturity, and emphasize the development of autonomy while respecting each participant’s capacities.

These groups are organized to take into account the age and needs of the teenagers / young adults and emphasize community integration as its primary goal, which it accomplishes through daily community outings.

We hope to broaden the field of interests of the participants by introducing them to new activities (going to the movies, bowling, and a variety of other outings). Community integration is also achieved through smaller daily activities such as going shopping and preparing a meal.  Participants are involved in every step of these projects.  The success of these activities hinges on respect for the limits of each participant, and also enables them to maintain their skills and acquire new ones.

The successful accomplishment of each participant’s activities relies upon respecting one’s capacities and limitations. The ratio provided depends upon the needs of the participants – either one shadow for every teenager / young adult, or one shadow for every two teenagers / young adults. Participants are paired according to their interests and abilities. A good match is the basis of a successful time at camp.


With the previous years’ experience, we realized that even though ATEDM was offering services specific to a PDD clientele, the existing structure did not answer every participant’ needs, especially for those with severe behaviour problems.

We have therefore decided to open a new section for teenagers / young adults with special needs, who have problems functioning in a group setting, and who need a higher shadow ratio.

The Wasabi section was created in 2007 and offered a ratio of three shadows (one shadow in charge and two assigned to the participants) for two participants.  Each participant is welcomed in a room adapted to his needs. Since this was an experimental project, we faced some challenges and had to adjust the service. Therefore, in 2008, we have modified the structure of the group. The Wasabi section now offers a ratio of eight shadows for four participants.

The section will welcome eight participants (10 to 24 years old) in the summer.  The main objective is still to develop and offer an individualised service for each participant.  However, we have added to the schedule activities to promote integration in a group. The daily program is determined in accordance with each person’s needs and interests, therefore offering adapted activities.

Special attention is put on collaboration with the professionals who work with the participants during the year in order to gather all the important information (ex : communication systems).

During the stay, each shadow works on the intervention plan’s objectives as well as the maintenance of acquired skills in a leisure activity setting.  Furthermore, there will be a special focus on trying to find the participants’ new subjects of interest.

In short, the Wasabi section’s priorities are the preparation, organisation and offer of an individualised stay adapted to each participant.


  • To have fun.
    • To provide tools which enable the participant to learn to play.
    • To increase the participant’s interaction with others, their independence, and their feelings of competence by participating in daily activities.
  • To maintain previously acquired skills.
    • To ensure continuity in the interventions used at home, at daycare, at school and at camp.
    • To collaborate with parents and educators, allowing us to learn from each other and to improve the quality of our interventions.
  • To introduce participants to new experiences.
    • To provide all participants with a positive experience of community integration (e.g. on outings) thus preparing some for an eventual integration into regular camp.
    • To provide structured group activities which will encourage the participant’s desire to communicate and interact with others.
    • To provide a relationship of love and support with an adult outside of the family (1 to 1 ratio or 1 to 2 ratio).
    • To broaden the participant’s interest in new activities (bowling, roller skating, going to the movies, etc.).
  • To provide respite to parents.
    • To allow parents to rest and rejuvenate.
    • To allow parents to attend to their affairs and demands with peace of mind.

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