Jayden is nothing short of admirable. He was diagnosed with autism when he was almost five years old, has a severe learning deficiency and was non-verbal, with only a few sounds, at age five.

His resilience, coupled with his parents’ unconditional support, has encouraged Jayden to thrive and embrace his diagnosis. Anita, Jayden’s mom, puts it beautifully as she shares how Jayden “believes autism is part of who he is and makes him him.”

Jayden had never attended Zajac Ranch before, but based on the positive impact attending camp has had on him, we are sure it will not be the last one. According to his mom, Jayden’s improvement of social skills has been the main benefit camp provided Jayden with. He made friends at camp, particularly with his counsellor, Chloe. For many of our campers, particularly campers with autism, building strong social bonds with others is often challenging in their home communities and schools. Yet, at Zajac Ranch, cultivating friendships and creating a sense of belonging and community is part of our vision and among our top priorities. This vision is materialized in campers who, like Jayden, leave camp with a renewed understanding of their social and physical potential.

“He made friends and learned independence from clothing and dressing himself to speaking up on likes and dislikes”

Sports and physical activity are an area Jayden excels in. One of our predicted outcomes at Zajac Ranch is precisely the promotion of physical activity, especially in the outdoors. Jayden definitely appreciated the opportunity to further develop his skills in sports and felt extremely accomplished when he reached the top of the climbing wall and tried new things like horseback riding.

For any parent who is nervous about sending their child to camp because they have never been a week away from home before, Anita offers some encouraging words: “my son had not either. All I can say is your children will surprise you and exceed your expectations if only you give them the opportunity by letting them go.”

We are proud to be part of Jayden’s story!