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Zippin’ for KAMPN

Article Published: Oct. 4, 2012 | Modified: Oct. 4, 2012
Zippin’ for KAMPN

KAMPN, which stands for Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature, is a family camp for children with autism, connecting them with nature and allowing their senses to take flight.

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When Jim Taylor noticed pine tree bark and ruddy dirt soothing his grandchild, Charlie, he had an idea for a summer camp for children with autism.

In May 2011, he incorporated KAMPN, or Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature. The nonprofit organization is set to open Camp Cogger in July 2013 in Deep Gap.

With one in 88 children being born with autism, Taylor’s vision is for his family’s 25 acres at 1255 Wildcat Ridge in Deep Gap to mother sustainable cost-effective cabins for families of children with autism.

Hiking, barbecues, music, art, language and other activities will fill the vacation. Children, siblings, parents and two university students will live in separate rooms in the cabins, creating a reciprocal growth triangle, he said.

College students in special education and related fields will be trained beforehand and staff the camp. Taylor foresees the students learning hands-on how parents use communication cues, handle “meltdowns” and common dietary restrictions.

The family camp resembles group living homes, one of Taylor’s early special education endeavors.
In the 1960s, he was teacher then principle at Johnny Appleseed special education school in Fort Wayne, Ind. In the 1970s, he received his doctorate degree in special education from the University of Florida.

He worked in 1972 as director of habilitation services for Alabama’s Right to Treatment Act, fighting for deinstitutionalization and successful integration. He worked at Caswell Developmental Center in Kinston, N.C., before teaching at East Carolina University.

When Taylor and his wife moved to Micronesia for two years during a sabbatical from ECU, he served as a preschool teacher for 3- to 5-year-olds with disabilities, while his wife served as a school nurse.
“When we had recess, I would take these 16 kids down to the tropical blue water,” he said. “They would pick up the sand and feel seashells, because they’re so sensory.”

His observations were aligned to multiple studies, such as “Prescription for Play” done by Naomi Sachs and Tara Vincenta. It states that nature stimulates the brain’s verbal centers, is an ideal restorative and utilizes all five senses.

Autism camps in North Carolina can cost anywhere from $15 to $1,650 per child. Taylor hopes that through volunteer staffing and scholarships, Camp Cogger will cost less than $1,000 per cabin.
“But,” he said, through the fundraisers “our hope is that families won’t have to pay anything at all.”

KAMPN’s next fundraiser is five days of Hawksnest Zipline tours, with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting their cause.

The zip tours will take place Oct. 17 to 21 at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. The donation required to receive a zip tour is $85 or $75 for students.

The top individual fundraiser will receive an airplane ride from a certified flight instructor.

Teams of two to five people are encouraged, with each member of the top team fundraiser to receive a free day of skiing at Appalachian Ski Mountain.

To register for the event, visit

The cost of the fundraiser is $5 to $10 more than the yearly zipline trips. Donations are tax exempt.
The Hawk tour is for ages 5 and older, with a weight limit of 250 pounds. The Eagle tour is for ages 10 and older, with a weight limit of 250 pounds. Riders for either must have a waist size of less than 40 inches.

Last December, when Taylor and his wife, Sue, were ziplining in Costa Rica, he had the idea for the fundraiser.

“I saw that Asheville (Asheville Zipline Canopy Adventures) had a fundraiser, so I talked to Lenny Cottom at Hawksnest,” he said.

The fundraiser’s goal is $12,000, the cost of one Camp Cogger cabin.

A Christian concert, raffles and festivals have also been held to help with raising the funds.
For more information, visit

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