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Camp Discovery


Camp Discovery at a Glance

Location: True Friends/Courage North, Lake George, Minn.
Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:4
Medical Physical Required: Yes

With the health and safety of our campers, families, and staff as paramount, AuSM and True Friends have chosen not to hold Camp Discovery this year. True Friends will not be holding any summer programming in 2020. Please know there was an immense amount of communication, deliberation, and time spent working with our wonderful partners at True Friends, and this is ultimately what both parties felt was in the best interests of all involved.

The staff at AuSM have been working on preparations for Camp Discovery 2020 for more than a year. Hours have been dedicated to meetings with True Friends staff and our own Camp Discovery directors, recruiting camp staff, and preparing activities tailored for the unique needs of our participants. We understand how difficult it is to see these camps your campers have been getting excited about get cancelled. The pandemic has pushed us to be patient and flexible, characteristics that can be challenging and frustrating. We, too, are disappointed and truly will miss being with our campers!

To help bridge the gap of not being able to be together in person, AuSM is working to create alternative camp-focused programming that can be done virtually with guidance from our awesome camp staff. We plan to announce more details about this new offering by June 12, 2020, with the actual activities being offered in mid/late July. The alternative virtual camp programming will be offered at a lower rate than Camp Discovery. We hope this virtual option will be a way we can keep connected and still have some enjoyable camp experiences this summer.

I am sorry to bring you this disappointing news about Camp Discovery. I hope your family is staying healthy, and I look forward to the days when we will all be together again at True Friends, for Camp Discovery, participating in camp activities and having fun together.


Ben Urbanek, AuSM's Director of Camp Programs

Camp Discovery is appropriate for campers needing 1:4 support.

Camp Discovery is ideal for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder who will enjoy a summer camp experience with a high degree of structure and small group activities. Campers should be able to positively interact and safely participate within small groups, as this camp provides 1:4 support and does not offer 1:1 support.

Camp Discovery is held at True Friends/Courage North, a beautiful 100-acre facility on Lake George near Bemidji, Minn. Campers will stay in cabin groups of eight, according to age, gender, and interests. Cabins have restrooms and electricity. Campers will enjoy their meals in a dining hall or on an outdoor deck.

Camp activities include swimming, kayaking, canoeing, hiking in Itasca State Park, arts and crafts, nature experiences, recreational games, live action role-playing games, and more. Camp Discovery also includes special evening activities. Campers participate in small group discussions and activities that focus on special interests and making a connection with others. Adults with ASD work as mentors, providing empathetic, positive role modeling throughout the week.

True Friends/Courage North, 37569 N. Courage Dr., Lake George, MN 56458

Camp Discovery Directors

Jill Pring, MEd, is an ASD consultant for Northern Lights Special Education Cooperative working with students from birth through age 21 and has 18 years of experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum both as a special education teacher and as a consultant. She also teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses on ASD for the University of Minnesota Duluth. This is her 11th year working with Camp Discovery.

Nichelle Zimmer, MS, is a school psychologist for the Forest Lake Area School District and has more than 20 years of experience as an Autism Resource Specialist, working at both the elementary and middle school levels. This is her 12th year at Camp Discovery.

Lacey Hendrickx, BS, Special Education, is a Special Education teacher at Sebeka Public School. She works with elementary students. She also has experience working with high school students. She has eight years of experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum as a special education teacher. This is her 6th year working with Camp Discovery.

Mike Cohen, MS, Special Education, is a special education teacher in Cloquet, Minn. in an elementary setting. He has worked with individuals with autism in schools for the past nine years. This is Cohen's third year at Camp Discovery.

Camp Discovery Session Menus 2020

Coming soon!

Camper Overview - True Friends/Courage North

Click here to view the Discovery parent overview pdf.


Click here for more information.

Please note:

  • Your waiver MAY cover all or part of the camp cost. Please check with your individual fiscal agent/case worker to determine coverage.
  • You are responsible for payment if your Third Party Payer does not cover the cost of camp.
  • All payments must be made by the deadline or your camper will forfeit his/her spot in camp, unless arrangements have been made with AuSM's Director of Camp Programs.