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Civic Impact

Quest feels like camp, but it's therapeutic -- and new

Quest Therapeutic Camp, a successful program out west for 6- to 18-year-olds with mild to moderate social and emotional challenges, is coming to Pittsburgh for the first time this summer.
The three- to seven-week experience is designed for kids who theoretically could attend a typical camp "but would end up on the margins [and] wouldn't necessarily fit in socially," says Dr. Jordan Golin, director of Squirrel Hill Psychological Services, which is teaming with Quest for the camp. "It's really an intensive therapeutic program using a camp format. The intention is really [for kids] to develop more positive social relationships and to manage their emotions more successfully."
The camp was begun in California by child psychologist Dr. Robert Field in 1989, who was born in Pittsburgh. The day is very structured and uses a cognitive-behavioral approach to its therapeutic elements. Kids can earn points toward purchase of items in the camp store, and there are also music and drama classes, swimming and other sports, as well as field trips.
Quest runs June 25-Aug. 17 on the Carnegie Mellon University campus. Campers must attend for at least three weeks to get the full impact of the program. During the following school year, once-weekly sessions are also offered to maintain and build on the camp’s effects, so kids don't experience a drop in good behaviors or an increase in anxiety and other difficulties.
"The kids really enjoy the camp,” Golin says. But, he adds, "the parents don't only want their kids to have fun during the summer, the parents want them to move beyond some of the challenges they're experiencing throughout the year."
Do Good:
Squirrel Hill Psychological Services is a division of Jewish Family & Children's Service of Pittsburgh, which has other services for special-needs kids, available here.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Dr. Jordan Golin, Squirrel Hill Psychological Services
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