Frequently Asked Questions
If you do not see an answer to your question below, please email or call our camp office. We are happy to answer any question you have.
What are Camp Yakety Yak's service limitations? Who is not a good fit for CYY?
What are Camp Yakety Yak's service limitations? Who is not a good fit for CYY?
Camp Yakety Yak is a summer day-camp focused on social-emotional education in large group classes and camp-wide activities. CYY serves children in an inclusive setting with 25% of our campers considered neurotypical and 75% with neurodevelopmental disorders and physical disabilities. This includes children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, learning and communication disabilities, intellectual delays and cerebral palsy. All instruction is provided under the direction & supervision of a small, multi-disciplinary team of masters-level professionals that includes speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, behavior analysts, school counselors and special education teachers.
Camp does not provide individual speech, occupational/physical therapy, or mental health/child psychology/psychiatry/counseling. We do not provide medical treatment, we provide education in an engaging social environment. CYY does not bill medical insurance nor provide receipts for medical reimbursement.
Part of the mission of CYY is to provide an opportunity for future professionals in educational and therapeutic fields to gain knowledge and hands-on experience in working with children with special needs. To achieve this, the curriculum is designed by the professional staff who then provide training and supervision to college interns and high/middle school student volunteers who deliver the instruction and individual assistance to the campers. For example, campers who need individual coaching/prompting to use social-behavioral skills within a group dynamic are provided with a one-to-one assistant at the college or adolescent level. Each intern and volunteer receives 10-30 hours of instruction prior to camp depending on their role. This service model also keeps the hourly rate low (around $20-$25 per hour) instead of a professional rate of $65-$125 per hour, depending on the discipline.
While the vast majority of campers enjoy following our schedule of classes and activities, some children do not care for the camp's structure and want to do more of their "own thing" or are escalated in our large group environment. Over the years, we have found approximately 3-5% of campers with special needs may react with aggressive, refusal or other inappropriate behaviors. In order to protect vulnerable children and volunteers, we ask parents to consider if the needs/challenges of their children are a good fit with CYY's inclusive, classroom-skill based camp. If you have questions about your child before registering for a session, please contacts us. We may be able to direct you to a better program that fits the needs of your child.
See our Policies and Restrictions page for more information regarding refunds for campers with behavior and other camp policies to protect the health, safety and confidentiality of our campers and staff.
What does Camp Yakety Yak offer that is different from other summer camps?
Camp Yakety Yak is a individualized day camp, which means our staff identifies and targets specific social-emotional goals to work on with your child and then use engaging group activities to practice these skills. Many camps are geared just for fun, and that is important, but we also want our campers to leave having learned new skills.
What is “Reverse Inclusion” and why is this the service model for Camp Yakety Yak?
Our camp is designed for children with special needs, but allows 25% of our campers to participate as “peer role models” (or “neurotypical peers”). Typically, our peer models are siblings of campers with special needs and they come to enjoy the camp activities and model strong participation and friendship skills. This is called Reverse Inclusion because we are inviting the child with typical skills into our “special” camp environment. Both sets of campers benefit immensely from the experience. The camper with special needs has the benefit of learning from a peer and the neurotypical camper has a chance to connect with other neurotypical siblings, develop empathy and practice leadership skills.
How do I know if my child has Special Needs or is a Neurotypical Peer? How do I know if they need Buddies Intensive Services?
We have provided characteristics of children in each of our programs so parents can make the correct choice. Our camp provides a specialized curriculum for developing social, behavioral, communication skills. If a camper is attending camp to BENEFIT from our specialized program (e.g., improve friendship skills relating to social-emotional deficits or immaturity), the child would be considered "Special Needs." Our staff devotes their time to creating an individualized and successful experience for campers with special needs (e.g., staff identifies a goal for the camper to work on during camp, selects specific teaching strategies to support the child, provides ongoing training and supervision to the college-level staff instructing the child, trains parents on the use of our curriculum for future home or school use, and produces a written report of camper's progress for parents). Sibilings of children with special needs have their own emotional and social needs. Camp Yakety Yak offers a unique Sibling Support program created by a Licensed Professional Counselor. Siblings participate in activities sprinkled throughout their camp session that encourages connection with other brothers and sisters who have a similar experience. A Peer Role Model is a child who has all grade level skills, is coming to camp to enjoy the activities and does not need any special planning or assistance from the staff. Peers benefit from participating in our Reverse Inclusion model in terms of building their empathy, patience, and leadership skills all for about the cost of childcare.
What do you do to make sure Camp Yakety Yak is an appropriate camp for my child before camp starts?
Parents are asked to complete questionnaires about their child as part of the pre-registration process. Camp administrators screen each registration and may contact parents if they have additional questions or concerns about the camper. After administrators decide if we would be a good fit for the child, families are invited to attend the Camper Orientation approximately 1 week before camp starts. This allows families and staff another opportunity to determine if Camp Yakety Yak will be able to serve the child well given the child’s needs and our environment.
What if Camp Yakety Yak is not a good fit for my child after I have already paid for it? What is your refund policy?
We charge a registration fee of $100 per week when a family registers for Camp Yakety Yak that is applied to the child's camp tuition. This is nonrefundable. It is important that Camp Yakety Yak be a good fit for both the camper and staff, however. If parents determine the camp is not a good fit after the Camper Orientation or during the camp session, they will receive 70% refund of their tuition, or 70% of the unused days' tuition. By that point, we have already purchased items for the child and held their space at camp (i.e., said "no" to someone on the waitlist) so a full refund is not possible. At any time, camp administrators can determine that Camp Yakety Yak is not a good fit for a child and a prorated refund may be given.
My child has had difficulty attending other summer camps, how do I know this one will work for him/her?
Our camp cannot guarantee that Camp Yakety Yak is the right fit for every child, but we will make every effort to create an engaging environment for all campers where social/emotional/behavioral/communication learning is embedded in fun! We can do this because of our high staff to camper ratio of highly-trained and enthusiastic Speech-Language Trainees, OT students, College Interns, and Camp Counselors. There is always an adult who is looking out for each child, making sure that their needs are being met and they are enjoying the learning process. We believe if a child is not having fun, they are not learning! It is the responsibility of staff to 1) assure the safety of all campers; 2) assure that all campers are content so they are emotionally and cognitively "available" to learn; and 3) support campers in participating in all camp activities and target their goals throughout each day.
Why does the camp cost more than a typical summer camp?
There are a lot of differences between our camp and a typical summer camp. We are not a recreational camp and exist just for fun. We are a therapeutic camp where goals are being worked on by specially-trained college-level staff with the supervision of multi-disciplinary panel of Masters level professionals. We believe that "behavior is communication" and teach our staff strategies to coach children through social conflicts or emotional reactions instead of telling the child how to behave. Our goal is to build skills to take back to school in the fall, so our camp closely resembles a middle school-type schedule where the instructors stay in the classroom and teams of campers rotate through the classrooms throughout the day. We also specifically work on Lunch, Recess, PE, and Classroom skills. Recreational or activity-based summer camps cost approximately $10 per hour with a 8-to-1 staff to camper ratio and no one-to-one assistant support provided. If one compares the services a child with special needs is receiving at camp (approximately $20 per hour) with the cost of private speech therapy (approximately $85-$100 per hour), we think that our fee is reasonable for 50 hours of intensive social-emotional instruction with our high staff-to-camper ratio and many 1:1 assistants.
Who will be working with my child at Camp Yakety Yak?
Campers work with a variety of staff throughout each day. The camp is administered by a Camp Director with a Master's in Special Education and a Clinical Director with a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology, both with years of experience working in public schools. Masters level clinicians and teachers instruct classes with the support of graduate students. College and high school students serve as one-to-one assistants and small group leaders. Our mission is for Camp Yakety Yak to be a learning experience for all participants. If your child is assigned a one-to-one assistant or a team leader, that person would remain the same throughout the week of camp. In rare cases, staff has been moved to other duties at camp if their original assignment was not a good fit. The main staff who will be working with your child are college student interns under the supervision of professionals. This is why we can offer the camp at approximately $20 per hour instead of a professional rate of $65-$125 per hour.
Are there any kinds of needs you do not serve at Camp Yakety Yak?
Because we are primarily a communication and social skills camp, we are careful not to step outside of our scope of practice. Our camp would not be a good fit for children with severe emotional or behavioral disorders that relate to a mental illness or conduct disorder. Children who are physically aggressive when upset or who run from staff (and do not return when called) are probably not a good fit due to safety concerns. Children with GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER EXCLUSIVELY (i.e., anxiety that is not a result of another disability) ARE ALSO NOT A GOOD FIT FOR CAMP.
What is the training like for the staff?
The majority of our volunteers work at Camp Yakety Yak as Speech-Language Trainees and are from local universities. This is similar to a “student teaching” experience where the students practice concepts they have learned in school with actual children at camp, with helpful supervision. Interns receive at least 15 hours of training (in person and online training modules) before camp begins. Weekly Camp Counselor/Volunteers receive at least 10 hours of training before interacting with campers. During camp, Interns and Camp Counselors meet daily with supervisors to discuss their performance, develop curriculum and implement new strategies to support campers. College students from other therapeutic and educational fields, and mature middle and high school students volunteer as Camp Counselors to ensure the safety and enjoyment of campers and help us achieve our impressive high staff-to-camper ratio and 1:1 assignments. We have the best, hardest-working and most enthusiastic staff around!
What is a typical day like at Camp Yakety Yak?
After arriving and settling in at camp, campers get in small groups and rotate to different classes throughout the building. Our classes include: Friendship (Social Skills), Feelings (Regulating Emotions), Games (PE/Recess Skills), Yak Academy (Classroom Skills) and Project (Hands-On, Multi-Step Projects). Campers bring their own sack lunches and and a snack and practice having conversations with others while eating. Many days throughout the session, campers will participate in a Cooking class, where they get to follow picture recipes. Recess breaks are added throughout the day and the day ends with an All Camp Assembly. Each activity in the day is meant to teach and reinforce friendship skills in an environment that resembles a child's “school” experience.
Do you do activities throughout the year?
Our staff are busy with their school-based job or college coursework during the school year, so we do not have regularly scheduled activities throughout the school year. We are considering some special events during Spring and Winter Break in the future depending on the availability of space and staff. Our Facebook page would have the most recent event information.
How is Camp Yakety Yak funded?
At this time, our camp is almost entirely funded by camper tuition, donations, and fundraising efforts. Camp Yakety Yak became a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization in 2013 and is now actively seeking grant funding for our camp season to help lower camper tuition. After building a strong infrastructure, our goal is receive enough support through grants and other fundraising efforts to reduce the cost of camp for families while continuing to enhance the programs we offer. Stay tuned!
How do I apply to volunteer at Camp Yakety Yak?
Please see the Camp Counselor/Volunteer page.
My child has a one-to-one assistant at school, will they have one at Camp Yakety Yak?
In all likelihood, a child who needs a one-to-one assistant at school will also need one at Camp Yakety Yak. An assistant will be assigned to each camper who has a demonstrated need (even if they do not have an assistant at school) for the entire camp session and will be trained in the specific strategies that support the child. Assistants are provided to any child who needs this level of support for no additional charge.
Are there scholarships available?
We have a limited number of needs-based partial scholarships available. Parents are encouraged to apply for a scholarship and will be contacted if one should be awarded to their child. Please see our Scholarship Application for more information. More about CYY's scholarship process: The scholarship committee looks at multiple factors in determining the scholarship calculations. We do not have a maximum income policy at this time rather we look at all of the other factors that the family shares to get a total picture of a need. When in doubt if you will qualify or not, just apply for a scholarship anyway and the committee will review all applications and available scholarship funds to make a determination. We ask that families who are interested in scholarships register their child for the amount of camp weeks they want online and pay all of the registration fees. And then complete a scholarship application and send it to our office with the supplementary documentation required. We review each application for scholarships and then contact the families by email about the award. It is important to note that providing written thank you’s to the donor is required for scholarships and is excellent social skill practice for campers. Our office handles tracking and distribution of thank you notes to donors or written testimonials to foundations providing scholarship funds. If a family registers for camp and pays the registration fee, then applies for the scholarship and is not allocated enough/is not able to raise the remaining tuition cost, we will refund all tuition paid, including the registration fee. SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS ARE DUE IN MID-MAY AND NOTIFICATIONS GO OUT AT THE END OF MAY.
Does Camp Yakety Yak bill medical insurance?
No. Camp Yakety Yak is not on the panel of any insurance provider. The services we provide at Camp Yakety Yak are different than typical speech therapy. We do not provide one-to-one therapy with one child and one adult. We have large group or classroom sessions working with a variety of staff, many of whom are not speech pathologists or are still college in college and do not have the credentials to bill medical insurance. We do not take the kind of documentation that is required for reimbursement. We are too busy interacting with children and planning fun lessons! Sorry, we do not provide medical receipts for you to submit to your insurance company, as well.
My child has a special diet. How are special diets accommodated for at Camp Yakety Yak?
We can accommodate special diets at Camp Yakety Yak. Each day, parents provide a sack lunch for their child along with a snack and a water bottle. All campers have a name tag showing them where to sit at camp and dietary needs are provided to all staff that works and interacts with your child. It is our policy that no child is given food or drinks that have not been pre-approved by the parent. Our Kitchen Supervisor will work with you to assure food activities are safe for your child. Additionally, no peanut products are allowed at Camp Yakety Yak.
How do you keep parents informed of how their child is doing at Camp Yakety Yak?
Parents receive daily emails about camp activities and announcements from camp administration. Blogs and Vlogs will be updated daily with general camp happenings so you can discuss with your camper what they did that day. Campers complete a "My Day at Camp" form each day with the help of their team leaders. These are provided to parents when they pick up their child. Comments are meant to be positive and "general", with a goal of sharing what the camper did that day, what they enjoyed, and who they played with. If there is any feedback that is related to problem behaviors, safety concerns physical aggression towards staff or another camper, you will receive a call from a Director or Behavior Support Team member that evening after camp. In August, parents will receive a "Progress Note" that describes the social/emotional/communication goal that was chosen for their child, the strategies that helped, and the child’s progress on the goal by the end of the session/s.
I want to support my child in making new friendships that last beyond the summer. Will there be other children like my child at camp?
Our campers are pretty evenly divided between boys and girls and have many children at each age level from 5 to 15 of all skill levels and interests. We place children in camper teams to attend classes and pay particular attention pairing children to facilitate friendship. At Lunch, we sometimes assign children seats based on friendships we see forming or by camper request. This might mean that we have an entire table of girls or a table where everyone likes to talk about dinosaurs. All campers attend Recess together so they can engage in play with children on different teams. Staff support friendship development by commenting on similarities between campers, complimenting those whose friendships that are developing and suggesting a game at recess or that they have their parents exchange phone numbers for a playdate. We provide a camper directory for this purpose (individual families can opt out of being in the directory). Camp Yakety Yak also has a Sibling Support Program where children with similar family experiences have the option to meet daily and connect with each other.
We would like our child to attend camp, but the location is not convenient. Do you help connect families for carpooling?
We would love to help families connect with each other for carpooling support! If that is something you would like, please email us at .
Why does Camp Yakety Yak require my child's IEP before attending camp?
Our staff wants to design a successful camp experience for every child. The IEP contains valuable information on how a child learns, what skills are lagging and what accommodations he/she needs to be successful. Our staff is trained on confidentiality and only those staff who "need to know" the information contained in the documents have access. Learn more about the benefits & services to campers with special needs on our Our Campers page.
Why do neurotypical siblings/peer role models gain from attending camp?
Neurotypical siblings of campers with special needs and peer models, gain a unique experience in which they learn leadership skills, empathy, and flexibility with others while having fun and creating new friendships. All campers receive a camp t-shirt, all supplies needed for camp, hours of engaging group activities and projects, and a group picture of all our campers and staff. Many siblings and peers return to camp year after year and often become Camp Counselor/Volunteers at age 13. Learn more about the benefits & services to campers for neurotypical siblings/peer role models on our Our Campers page.
I have registered my child with special needs for camp, but he/she has a sibling that is not registered for camp. Could my neurotypical child attend the daily Sibling Support meetings?
No, only children registered for a Camp Yakety Yak session can participate in any camp activity. We require neurotypical siblings to attend camp, not just come to the Sibling Support meeting for a variety of reasons: 1) our program is designed around building connections throughout the day; 2) neurotypical campers learn from interacting with campers on their team with special needs who are NOT their sibling; and 3) for insurance/liability reasons, all those participating in camp activities must be registered, and cannot just "drop in" for one part of the day/program. There are other neurotypical sibling programs in the Portland Area. Please contact Autism Society of Oregon or Swindells Center for more information.
What if my child has a medical diagnosis or no diagnosis but one is suspected, but does not have an IEP or 504 at school? Can they still attend Camp Yakety Yak as a "camper with special needs?"
Yes, a child does not need an IEP or 504 to attend our camp as Camper with Special Needs. The camp asks for and IEP, 504 or medical reports for two reasons 1) so the staff can learn as much as possible to prepare for each individual camper; and 2) so our mostly college-levels volunteer staff can gain experience reviewing these forms (i.e., what kind of information they provide, what further questions do they have etc.) CYY is as much of a learning experience for children as it is for our Camp Counselors.
Additionally, since there is such a big difference in price for children with special needs and neurotypical siblings/peers, we have had parents say that because the child doesn’t have an IEP (perhaps they go to a private school or are home schooled and no IEP is written) the child is not technically “special needs” but has required our staff to do a lot of individual planning and support to the child. If a child is being sent to benefit from our curriculum, and not just enjoy the activities, they have special needs and our staff will work on a goal, track progress and report it to you. See each program's page for services and benefits.
Typical campers just come to enjoy the activities and help us create an inclusive setting. They receive no individual programming, require no specialist supervision by our Professional Faculty or written progress reports. Neurotypical siblings are encouraged to participate in our specially-designed Sibling Snack Group.
On the online registration, we try to ask parents many questions that might also be on an IEP in order to get the clearest picture of their child. The answers parents provide should prepare our staff well, but if they have any follow up questions, they will be trained on how to ask in a professional manner.
I am sad to report to families and providers that Camp Yakety Yak will NOT be able to accept the K-Plan this year, and in the forseeable future. CYY does not "fit" reimbursable K-Plan services. CYY services are individualized therapeutic/educational services. We are not respite services for families, but respite is a valuable by-product of our services. The reimbursement rate for respite does not cover our staffing costs and CYY does not have any full-time employees except during the summer time when camp is happening. As a result, we do not have the necessary administrative infrastructure to comply with State regulations and the complex billing requirements of the K Plan. Our small administration team must focus on developing our specialized curriculum, acquiring and training staff, and efficient processing of camper registrations, staff background checks. I am sorry that this decision may make CYY unaffordable for some families and we will refund all camp fees, if parents were counting on this funding. The CYY Board of Directors continue to work hard to fundraise so we can offer partial need-based scholarships to families.
-- Thank you for your understanding!
Angela Arterberry Sullivan, Camp Director & Board Chair
Can recent graduates with a Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology work for the camp?
The Oregon Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology has strict requirements that you will need to follow to work at Camp Yakety Yak. Since you are going to be a recent graduate and do not have your Certificate of Clinical Competence, working at CYY will actually count towards your Clinical Fellowship Year, therefore you must be fully registered with the Board and have your Conditional License in place before July 1st. We outlined what steps can be done while still in graduate school you need to follow to be in good standing with the Board of Examiners here.
Can teens and young adults with special needs volunteer?
Young adults and teens with special needs are not able to serve as volunteers at Camp Yakety Yak because they are often still learning the social communication and executive function skills we are teaching our campers. As you can understand, our professional faculty must focus our time and attention on campers who have paid tuition to attend.
CYY does not accept teens with ASD, Intellectual Disability or untreated ADHD and/or Anxiety as volunteer staff due to the requirement of “all staff, no matter age or role at camp, must be able to follow supervisor instruction provided in online pre-camp trainings, announcements at staff meetings and posted on our information center independently at least 80% of the time.” We have found that young adults with special needs require 50% or more ongoing supervision and support to use our camp curriculum effectively, safely and efficiently with campers with special needs.
Instead, teens age 12-15 WITH special needs or medical conditions such as untreated ADHD and/or Anxiety, are encouraged to enroll in our Junior Camp Counselor Program that provides masters-level instruction, as well as leadership/volunteer-like opportunities to teens with these challenges with college mentor support. This is an engaging learning opportunity with sufficient staff support. Learn more about the Junior Camp Counselor program here.
Young adults age 16-21 WITH special needs or medical conditions that may make it difficult to get or keep a job, are encouraged to enroll in our Yak Apprenticeship Program that targets "social skills at the work place" instruction by masters-level supervisors and graduate student mentors. Learn more about our Yak Apprenticeship program here.