Our CONNECTIONS program includes cost effective, structured social opportunities. Designed for and tailored to support our current campers with ASD, the program serves as a supplement to our overnight camps. With quality evidence-based supports and trained professionals, campers gather, connect, grow, are encouraged, and learn from one another in a family-like, accepting atmosphere in the greater Kansas City area. Activities vary but the messages are clear:

You are enough, you are capable, you are worthy, and you are loved.

Click on each tab below for a description of the upcoming CONNECTIONS outings.

Unlike our camp sessions, a lottery will not occur and slots will fill on an as-registered-and-accepted basis. For those that have already submitted a 2022 online application, visit HERE for helpful tips on how to proceed. For those that have not applied, please complete an application HERE. Should all slots for one of the CONNECTIONS be filled, please contact Aimee Gorrow at to be added to a waiting list and should a cancellation occur, you will be notified.

Note: As outings are scheduled, they will appear below. Be sure to read through the helpful details regarding each.



Starting at Taste Buds Kitchen, participants will work in small groups to create and enjoy homemade pasta, sauces, and cannoli. Water and lemonade will be available.

At His and Her Fitness, campers will rotate through organized Creative Cardio Stations. These include using body weight, stepping over cones, using medicine balls to toss or grab, ropes, and more to just keep dynamic moves and blood flow. This helps the body be less tense and helps create a calming effect on the nervous system. Feel less anxious energy is stable and sleep well. Amazing for heart health as well!

Further Helpful Information
  • There is a restaurant near Taste Buds Kitchen called Berg and Barrel should parents need a location to relax while the campers participate in the Connections outing.
  • Taste Buds Kitchen will provide gluten free options but must know at least five days in advance.
  • Please be sure to arrive by 11:15am.
  • Please be sure to bring your written release form for His and Her Fitness (which will be sent your way through email).
  • You will also receive a link to fill out a release for Taste Buds.
  • His and Her Fitness is right next door to Taste Buds. Together, we will walk there when we are finished.
  • Please be sure to arrive at His and Her Fitness promptly at 2:30 to pick up your camper.


Goals: In addition to having an opportunity to socially connect in a safe and loving environment while trying new foods, skills targeted will include enhancing self-esteem; strengthening independence; and gaining skills to work collaboratively, problem solve, make choices, and prepare foods. At His and Her Fitness campers will continue to connect in a safe environment while learning cardio techniques for a healthy and calm body.


Taste Buds Kitchen (5336 W 151st Street Leawood, KS 66224)

His and Her Fitness (5328 W. 151st. Leawood, KS 66224)


11:15am to 2:30pm



Participants will have access to many board games to play at Mission Board Games. Each participant will be allowed to order 1 drink (hot chocolate, tea, soda, etc.) and 1 food item (waffle, pastry, etc.) from Urban Prairie Coffee. Mission Board Games staff will help participants set up games and learn how to play new games. Arrival time for participants is 6:30pm. Pick up time is 9:30pm. Please make sure participants have eaten dinner prior to the connections event, as they will only receive a small snack during the event.

Goals: Participants will have the opportunity to improve social skills and increase friendships while playing games with their peers. They will be in a supportive environment where they can learn new games, feel confident playing games, and build relationships. Participants, with friends, will compete against each other in games or work together. Targeted skills include increased self-esteem, gaining skills to work collaboratively, increased leisure and social skills.


Mission Board Games

5606a Johnson Drive; Mission, KS 66202


6:30pm to 9:30pm


Join us for an end of summer swimming party! Participants and their families* will have the pool to themselves and be able to enjoy time to socialize and play without distractions from other patrons. All Camp Encourage policies will be in place including our "No Electronics" policy.

Bring a towel and please bring swim wear appropriate for swimming, jumping, and playing (able to stay in place and be comfortable during play without the wearer having to worry about adjusting it). No large floaties are allowed, but life jackets and goggles may be used.

Life guards will be on duty. Concessions will not be open, but snacks and drinks will be provided by Camp Encourage.

*And YES! This outing is unique in that parents and siblings are able to join us as well, all for the same cost. Once you register, a staff member will follow up to find out if any family members will be coming as well.


Oak Grove Pool

1300 SE 30th Street Oak Grove MO 64075


Arrival can begin at 6:15pm and departure will be promptly at 8:30pm.

FALL PICNIC (date changed from October 1st to October 8th)

Participants will connect while enjoying a (pizza) picnic together.  They will engage in some fun fall themed activities together such as painting pumpkins, playing yard games and looking for leaves and creating art out of them.

Goals: Focus will be on social interaction, connection and creativity!


Shawnee Mission Park, Shelter #3

7900 Renner Road; Shawnee, KS 66219


10am to 1pm


Do you want to paint a snowman?? Join us for a fun creative event! We will be gathering at Pinots Pallets in Olathe for a private painting class. Campers will be guided through a snowman painting (to take home) while being able to be creative in their own way also! Snacks and water will be provided.

Goals: Skills involved include: socializing and connecting, following directions, fine motor for painting, and near or far point copying.


Pinot's Palette (Olathe)

11945 S Strang Line Rd, Olathe KS 66062


9:30am to 12:30pm


One of the best parts about camp is practicing our social emotional skills and feeling seen and noticed! In this connection, campers will have the opportunity to come together, participate in an I Am Noticed activity, enjoy some pizza, and sing their hearts out to karaoke!

Goals: Campers will have the opportunity to increase their social and emotional skills at this Connection outing. Through the I Am Noticed activity, participants will practice noticing the good in others and themselves. We will also work on connecting and social interactions with each other through conversations over pizza and throughout the activity. Opportunities for teamwork are present if campers choose to sing songs together during karaoke.


Timothy Lutheran Church

425 NW R D Mize Rd, Blue Springs, MO 64014


12:30pm to 3:30pm


Additional Connections outings will be scheduled in the near future. Please check back, be watching your email inbox, and follow us on social media for updates.



Each outing is $30 and must be paid once notified of acceptance. This cost includes all activities, all food and beverage, and quality staff support (with a ratio of 1 youth: 3 adults). Scholarships are available for our overnight camps but not for the Connections outing as each Connections outing is greatly discounted.


Updated: April 2022: We will continue to encourage good hygiene and social distancing when possible at all of our outings. Other NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) will be implemented on an as needed basis depending upon the current Community Transmission Level. We will base decisions on the levels throughout the entire KC Metro Area and use data from Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson, Wyandotte, and Leavenworth counties in Kansas. Community Transmission Levels in the KC Metro counties are currently: LOW. This means that masking will not be required at this time. Regardless of our current policies, some businesses and venues where our outings are held may have masking, vaccination, or testing requirements. Should this be the case, we will pass along this information as soon as it's received.

What to Expect

Structured outings in the greater Kansas City area will be provided to allow time to connect and share joy while under the supervision of encouraging, trained staff. Details regarding each scheduled outing can be found within the above tabs.

Examples of future outings may include outdoor adventures, attending a play or other performance, swimming, bowling, attending a sporting event, visiting the zoo, participating in board games, and much more. Should you or your camper have any suggestions, please contact our Program Coordinator. Our campers often have THE best ideas!


Standard eligibility (but please see exception below): Campers and Peer Model Campers, between the age of 8 and 18, that have already attended Camp Encourage within two years of the scheduled Connections activity are eligible to attend. The intention of involving already-attending campers is that the staff is familiar with each camper's unique needs and because we hope to further enrich the lives of those attending Camp Encourage by keeping them engaged in the messages and surrounding them more regularly with encouragement.

A Camper Application must already be submitted through our new online registration system so that we have all updated information.

Exception: if your camper is already slated to attend a camp session in the near future, you are welcome to apply. If slots remain available (which is very likely), he or she is welcome to attend prior to attending one of our camps. It's a great way for us to get to know one another prior to camp!

Programming Focus
We hold the same beliefs that: every person with an ASD is an individual; is capable of great things; is deserving of individualized, research-based supports; and flourishes in a supportive and encouraging environment. We understand that each camper has his or her own interests, motivators, strengths, and areas for need of support and growth. Although individualized supports are provided as needed and although there will be additional focused objectives within each outing, many of the activities, just like during our overnight camp sessions, aim to achieve the following set of general goals:
  • increasing skills of independence
  • enhancing one's self-esteem
  • increasing personal self-understanding and acceptance
  • increasing social abilities
  • widening awareness of recreation opportunities and skills of recreation
  • connecting with others with similar interests, needs, and/or abilities
Ages Targeted

Just as with our overnight camps, Connections are focused on those between the age of 8 and 18 at the time of the service. Because only 15 campers will be able to attend each outing, ages and genders will vary. Camp Encourage feels it is important to have the diverse group with the idea that we are a family. We have found that when in a nurturing, encouraging environment, youth of all ages support and learn from one another and despite age differences, connect and form family-like relationships. It's a space of belonging—a place where you're accepted and loved.


Each camper participating in the Connections activities must be transported to the outing location as no transportation will be provided. Specific drop off and pick up details will be provided once the participant has been officially accepted and offered a slot to join the goodness.


Kristi Loftus, Sandy Smith, and Brooke Bailey who have been with Camp Encourage since the early years are developing and overseeing each Connections outing. In addition to their expertise (which you can read about here), we have selected some of our top-notch, always-present supporters that have been at camp for years in the role of a Counselor or Group Leader. We wanted to ensure quality services while also making sure that familiar faces were abundant and consistent leadership were present.