Join us this summer for family camping, a heroes journey, or Dungeons & Dragons.
1 (360) 447-8020 — hello@findacceptance.be

A Place For Retreat, Relaxation, Space & Friendship For Those That Don't Fit In To Traditional Society

Everyone deserves to feel accepted, appreciated, and included. Everyone deserves to become a meaningful part of a community where they can truly know they have a place in the world.

Acceptance is that place. It's a campground, retreat center and eventual village & home schooling collective for people with Asperger's, Autism, PTSD, Anxiety & those that just don't fit into traditional society, located just outside of Centralia, Washington. We're here to offer a different story of living, a different way to perceive, act and live in the world, and to provide a safe space for connection to nature, connection to each other, and connection to our feelings & emotions as well as the world in which we live. 

Through ongoing workshops, experiential learning, and gatherings of like-minded people, we equip individuals, families & communities with the tools they need to process through emotional overwhelm & stress while learning & implementing new strategies for living a happier, healthier life.

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Help Us Build Permanent Facilities

During the summer of 2017, we held camping & volunteer weekends at a location provided free-of-charge to Acceptance.  Over 100 individuals, primarily families, participated in those weekends, and the results that came to the participants were often profound.

We heard kids say things like "When I'm out here, I don't feel like I have Autism".

This year, we're continuing to offer camping activities at our temporary location in Centralia, WA, while we work to raise money to purchase a 20 acre parcel literally next to our current location so we can start building our permanent facilities. 

One of the big things we think that is missing in the current conversation around people that don't fit into the world (such as those on the autistic spectrum) is how the physical environment and space can affect them. I'm sure you've heard how restaurants and other public places are designed to maximize certain objectives (McDonalds uses bright colors to encourage you not to linger, Jazz music in bars increases tips, etc).

We're using those same principles, but optimizing for healing, space & relaxation. For example, according to the book "Welcome To Your World: How The Built Environment Shapes Our Lives", "One recent study of the learning progress of 751 pupils in classrooms in thirty-four different British schools identified six design parameters - color, choice, complexity, flexibility, light and connectivity - that significantly affect learning, and demonstrated that on average, built environmental factors impact a students learning by an astonishing 25%. The difference in learning between a student in the best designed classroom and one in the worst designed classroom was equal to the progress that a typical student makes over an entire academic year." 

We need your help to raise the $250,000 necessary to purchase the land and start to build our permanent facilities. Having permanent facilities will allow us to start conducting programs for children, teenagers & young adults, as well as weekend and week long programs for families. It will also allow for longer term stays, which means that we can start to offer internship programs to young adults & others that are looking to find their place in the world, as well as those that need a bit more time to relax, recharge and reconnect.

We'll also be able to offer employment, housing & a built-in sense of community to the people we serve. They'll work in the various parts of the retreat center, learning valuable skills, making friends, and contributing to the growth, relaxation and healing of our weekly participants.

Land Campaign

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Acceptance: A Transformational Place is a Washington State 501(c)(3) pending non-profit. Please consult with a tax professional if you have any questions about deducting your donation.

About Acceptance: A Transformational Place

The Need

We're setup to provide a place for those that don't fit into the traditional system. Whether it's the school system, traditional family dynamics, common therapy practices or the cultures in which we live, there is a profound disconnect in how the dominant culture treats people on the fringe. As the saying goes "The problem with trying to fit a square peg into a round hole isn't that it doesn't fit... it's that you damage the peg."

The "one size fits all" mentality of the traditional institutions of society, do not actually fit all. And those that it does not fit are often profoundly damaged and traumatized through the process of trying to force them to "fit in". We're here to offer & teach a different alternative: A way of living, existing and responding to the world that doesn't rely on force. 

There's a profound need for a space to step back, decompress, re-assess, learn new tools and THEN go back into the world, ready & equipped to handle whatever life throws at you. At present moment, we've found that there aren't too many facilities aimed specifically at providing a safe, resilient space for individuals & families who are dealing with challenges like Asperger's, Autism, PTSD, and plain ol' overwhelm. So that's what we are here for: To provide a safe, accepting space, and then to let that space do its work.

So our purpose is providing a space where people can (often for the first time) truly relax, let go and decompress. A place where they can pause. A place where they can connect with others, make friends, finally feel like they are apart of a community, and finally feel accepted.

The Place

Our temporary home is a 20-acre former dairy farm located in Centralia, Washington (1.5 hrs from both Portland & Seattle). The land has a meadow, pond, 2 forests, campground and barn. While we are raising money & building our permanent facilities next door, we're hosting camping weekends & experiential retreats from May - September each year.

On a wider scale, we're focused on building Acceptance in the Pacific Northwest for two reasons: The culture & people of the Pacific Northwest deeply fit within our values and the seasons are mild but still have enough variation to them.

Both our temporary home, and the land we intend to purchase next door are only 15 minutes from Centralia, WA, which is right on the major I-5 freeway. There's a train station in downtown Centralia that goes to Seattle & Portland, and it's an easy access point to everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer, while still feeling secluded and remote.

The Staff

Bringing decades of both personal and professional experience in a wide variety of modalities, the Acceptance staff is here to help guide & facilitate our participants, as well as implement the ultimate vision for this special space. Meet our core staff below.

dannysmiles

Danny Raede

Danny Raede is the CEO & Co-Founder of Asperger Experts, the world's largest community & training platform for parents & people on the autistic spectrum, with a global reach of over half a million people each day. Having been diagnosed with Asperger's himself at age 12, Danny inspires, educates and provides much needed guidance to those struggling to live in a world that is, quite literally, painful to them.

He serves as Director on the board of Acceptance, guiding the ultimate vision and helping create a place where people can finally feel truly accepted, connected and at peace. In his free time he enjoys walking in nature, researching the intersection of architecture & psychology, and eating tacos. Lots of tacos.

 

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Seth "Grey Owl" MacNeely

While never diagnosed with Asperger's (there wasn't a word for it in those days), Seth was one of the first generation of kids to be treated pharmaceutically for "hyperactivity." With two of his own three children labeled as ADD and ADHD, he is keenly aware of the challenges that we all face.

Seth has spent the last 20 years working in leadership roles within corporate America and the last 10 doing large-scale project management for a company with revenues in excess of 10 billion annually. While successful, his greatest love has been for Nature and the healing connections it can bring to people.

In addition to graduate work in organizational dynamics and human resources, Seth is a classically-trained actor who spent 10 pre-corporate years working professionally in San Diego - feel free to ask for help with Shakespeare homework!

Seth enjoys camping with his family, horseback riding, scuba diving, long motorcycle trips - any excuse to be outside, really!

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Titus Kahoutek

First and foremost Titus is a lover of life! An explorer at heart, he is fascinated by the human landscape. As a coach, trainer, speaker and co-founder of Heroics Training Systems, his work focuses on activating and empowering human potential through reintegrating the mindbody as a functional whole.

He works with innovators, leaders and organizations to optimize performance and enrich the living experience.

Titus says, “My passion is to create learning environments that foster the playful development of physical skill and somatic intelligence.We all have hidden skills and capacities that can be cultivated through practice. I love being witness to that moment when a person gains access to abilities they never knew they had."

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James Lee Gibbs

James Lee Gibbs has been on a journey of self-discovery since learning he was autistic at the age of 32. Previously, life felt like a futile practice of survival. Always struggling to feel "good enough." After learning about the neurodiversity paradigm, James threw himself into the study of psychology, the practice of mindfulness, stoicism, and works of authors like Brené Brown, Alfie Kohn, and Manuel J Smith. Together this has transformed his quality of life, and been pivotal in creating a home oriented around love and acceptance with his wife and two children.

James studied Computer Science and Information Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology while continuing to work on animations that he started in high school. Unfortunately, without the self-awareness and practices acquired in more recent years he returned to his home town in upstate New York before completing his undergraduate degree. He has worked as a professional Software Engineer for 12 years. He also has participated in several Seattle-area Game Jam events. He spends time among communities like AE+ by Asperger Experts hoping to promote acceptance and advocate for neurodivergent individuals. He enjoys any combination of time with his family, nature, researching psychology, or playing & designing games.

Book A Visit

We're located just outside of Centralia, Washington and our season runs from May - September each year (at least until we build our permanent facilities!). We hope you'll join us this summer for family camping, Dungeons & Dragons and heroes journey weekends. All ages are welcome, though we ask that those under 18 be accompanied by at least 1 adult.

Young Adult Camping Retreat

July 27 - 29, 2018
Join us for our first young adult camping retreat. We'll gather in a safe, accepting space to relax, connect with nature, have long conversations around a campfire, make new friends and have deep philosophical conversations about life. If you are yearning for belonging, genuine human connection, a space to pause & relax and new friends, this is for you!
Register Now

LARPing Weekend

August 17 - 19, 2018
Come join us for an exciting weekend of role-playing, growth, and fun! Ages 11 and up. Under 16 MUST be accompanied by a parent. Bring your own tent, camping supplies, and food - tents and sleeping bags are available for a $5 fee.
Register Now

Family Camping

August 24 - 26, 2018
Join us for a free-form family camping weekend.  There’s no agenda, no required activities, and no pressure.  Let the kids run free, explore, visit with animals, and play together.  Sit around a campfire with us and talk about the deep questions of life, tell stories, talk about our dreams, and just relax.
Register Now

Latest News

New Bathroom!

By Seth MacNeely | February 20, 2018

Ok, so maybe that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but for us, it is! Last summer, we had a lovely, and usually odor-free, portable bathroom that served our needs – it was….adequate. We promised that we would have some better options by next Summer, and we are hard at work to…

Read More

Welcome To Sweetpea

By Seth MacNeely | February 12, 2018

And then there was a donkey! Our family here just keeps on expanding. 🙂  Please help us welcome Sweetpea! Sweetpea is 12 years old, about the size of a big Great Dane, and has just about the sweetest eyes and kindest disposition this side of a Teddy Bear. She is…

Read More

Wintertime is here

By Seth MacNeely | January 10, 2018

We are now deep in the heart of Winter, and for a California ex-pat, this is a very new experience! Before this winter, I had never really experienced the unique kind of silence that exists during a gentle snowfall.  I think all those flakes and light fluffy drifts must absorb…

Read More

Recent Thoughts

How Movement Heals The Nervous System

By Titus Kahoutek | March 27, 2018

Movement is a primary characteristic of the Animal Kingdom, and a powerful asset in life. Humans are the only species that exclusively walks on two legs. This upright posture offers us unique gifts and challenges. On one hand, we have an incredible capacity to adapt. No other animal on the…

Read More

It’s all fake, and all I want is for it to be real

By Danny Raede | March 4, 2018

It’s rare that I have a genuine, real human connection. To me, 99% of the time, it seems fake. People ask how are you, but they don’t actually want to know. They are afraid of expressing their actual humanity, and push you down when you try to express yours. They…

Read More

Connection: On Feeling Seen, Heard & Accepted

By James Lee Gibbs | March 2, 2018

Not many would dispute social connections can bring happiness and help us live longer and more fulfilling lives. There are numerous studies looking into just how big of an effect they can have.  One meta-analysis across 148 studies (308,849 participants) found benefits comparable to giving up smoking 15 cigarettes a…

Read More

The Acceptance Philosophy

Acceptance is more than just a word to us, it is a way of perceiving, acting and living in the world. What we believe (and what the science shows) is that the degree to which someone feels safe & accepted in the world is the degree to which they can grow and contribute. We know that the best way to overcome issues of emotional intensity is through a deep, consistent practice of accepting one's own sensations & emotions, rather than fighting them. We also know that all humans have a deep yearning for community. A sense of belonging that often goes unmet in those that don't fit into traditional society.

To us, acceptance also means acknowledging the demonstrated truths of the world, rather than ignoring the knowledge and insight that is right before our eyes simply because it is inconvenient and isn't easy to accept. So we take a different approach here.

Building our buildings with the knowledge that a well designed building can literally extend life, bring people together and create communities. Tending the land with a knowledge of interconnectedness, and recognizing the symbiotic relationship between plants, animals and humans. Intentionally designing a cultural story that lifts us up, rather than promoting patterns that aren't sustainable or healthy.

By creating a space imbued with these values, where people can come to learn a different way of living, decompress, and feel deeply connected to nature & each other, we hope to make peoples lives just a little bit better.

We invite you to read more about our values, understand the thinking behind them and visit us to experience these values demonstrated for yourself. For most people that we serve, being in an intentionally designed, welcoming and truly accepting place is a welcome break from their every day lives.

Our Values

Acceptance

Acceptance (of ourselves and each other) is as fundamental a human need as food or water, and yet in today's society, it is lacking from so many people's lives. 

Connection

The science is clear: The more a person feels connected to themselves, their emotions, their community and their environment, the happier & healthier that person is. The more disconnected they are, the more they encounter pain & suffering.

Nature

Spending time in nature offers us an opportunity to reclaim something that many of us don’t even realize we have lost.  The science on this is extremely clear: the modern world, and the culture that built it, makes so many demands on our time and attention that many of us exist in a constant state of fight-or-flight.

Space

Having times for productive growth & learning is as important as times for space, relaxation & zero expectations. 

Architecture

The built environments that we live in have profound impacts on our day to day functioning. We assert that a well built, intentionally designed space has as much, if not more therapeutic value than the world's best therapists. Simply put: Spaces that are full of life enliven us, and spaces that feel dead produce literal death within.

Culture

The stories we have about what is right & wrong, what is good and bad, and what it means to be a failure or success determine the values & decisions we make in life. Intentionally designing those stories is not only smart, it is necessary for a healthy, functioning society.

Toroidal Design

Going beyond recycling, we aim to design systems that are self-regulating, highly resilient, and work within the resources provided to us on the land.

Demonstration

The best way to show an alternative model that you believe functions better than the existing norm is to demonstrate that model and provide contrast, then let people form their own conclusions from direct experience of both.

Our Big Picture Plan

Our ultimate goal is to allow people to experience life full of acceptance to the level that they feel comfortable with, from simply joining us for a weekend workshop or retreat, to moving into the village and becoming part of our long term community. As we grow through each phase of the plan outlined below, we intend to accomplish that ultimate goal and invite people into a new way of living. One filled with community, connection, acceptance, and a life that honors what is truly important.

Phase 1: The Campground - Completed!

Last summer, over 100 individuals, primarily families, participated in camping & volunteer weekends, and we were able to verify and document the profound impact that the land, community & experiences have on the population we are serving.

We heard kids say things like "When I'm out here, I don't feel like I have Autism".

So going forward, during our camping weekends each summer, guests of all ages have their choice of participating in experiences based around the Hero’s Journey model, simple camping, or table-top gaming.  

Regardless of the activities, spending time in nature offers us an opportunity to reclaim something that many of us don’t even realize we have lost.  The science on this is extremely clear: the modern world, and the culture that built it, makes so many demands on our time and attention that many of us exist in a constant state of fight-or-flight.

We are permanently triggered - on a knife edge waiting to jump on...something.  We are surrounded by strangers, flashing lights, loud and unexpected noises - all the hustle and bustle of modern life, and our brains and hearts cannot possibly keep up or successfully process all of that information.  As a result, we deaden ourselves in one way or another, and seek constant distraction.

The life we evolved and adapted to lead was very different - we lived in forests and grasslands, deserts and river valleys, islands and mountains.  The loudest sound was a clap of thunder, and most everyone we saw each day was part of our family or well-known member of our tribe. It is for such environments that our senses are optimized and our bodies and mind responsive.

Over the last 40 years, a huge body of evidence has begun to accumulate that spending time in nature isn’t a luxury or just a nice diversion; it is a vital part of maintaining a healthy body and healthy emotions. That's why we've decided to partner with mother nature to provide a space full of relaxation, as well as connection to others, ourselves, and the surrounding wildlife.

Phase 2: The Retreat Center - In Progress

Let's face it: Not everyone wants to camp. Especially when working with those with sensory difficulties, only offering camping activities (and only for half the year) significantly cuts down on the services & programs we are able to offer. That's why, in phase 2, we're focused on building permanent facilities to be able to serve a much wider population, in a year round setting.

Having permanent facilities will allow us to start conducting programs for children, teenagers & young adults, as well as weekend and week long programs for families. It will also allow for longer term stays, which means that we can start to offer internship programs to young adults & others that are looking to find their place in the world, as well as those that need a bit more time to relax, recharge and reconnect.

We'll also be able to offer employment, housing & a built-in sense of community to the people we serve. They'll work in the various parts of the retreat center, learning valuable skills, making friends, and contributing to the growth, relaxation and healing of our weekly participants.

When our retreat center is done, it will have guest cabins, workshop rooms, a community hall & lounge area, a movement and exercise space, a library filled to the brim with our favorite life-changing books, courses, movies & more, a dining hall serving freshly prepared, healthy food (while still accommodating for picky eaters) and a hydro-therapy spa that offers a place to relax, process through the day's events, and let go of your worries. 

We're really excited to get started on building a permanent facility to be able to expand our programs and services, and need your support to make this a reality. Donate today to help with land purchasing, construction costs & professional fees so we can make this a reality.

Phase 3: The Farm

Having a working farm based on permaculture principles serves multiple purposes: First, we'll be able to expand our internship program and create even more jobs for people in our community. Second, we'll be able to provide a unique experience by showing our participants (some for the first time) the complete cycle of how their food is grown, prepared, eaten, composted, and grown again. 

There's a big difference between eating a meal in a package, and eating a meal that you helped create, direct from the ground. We've seen people who are considered to be extremely picky eaters be completely willing to try new things once they saw exactly where it came from and how it was prepared.

Our farm will also allow us to implement our principle of toroidal design on a deeper level, allowing for us to compost the food waste, capture the biogas that gets produced for use in cooking and for generators, as well as using that compost pile for heat & fertilizer. Thus reducing costs and using less resources.

Phase 4: The Village

Home. It means many different things to different people, but to us a home is more than a square box with a roof in which you and your immediate family live. To us, a home is a community. A place to truly build inter-dependent relationships. A place where you can rely on your neighbors to watch your kids, where you can get true support, connection, encouragement and advice from those around you. A place where you can let down your guard and be yourself.

Our village will be such a place. Focused heavily on communal living, we will have dwellings for immediate families, as well as non-traditional families such as young adults living together. We'll also have a community pantry, so that we minimize food waste, as well as a tool library and workshop. There's no need for everyone to buy an expensive gadget that you'll only use once a year, when the community can just share one.

Our homes will be built using as many natural materials (like cob and strawbale) as possible, both to minimize cost & use of resources, and also because these materials lend themselves to ease of use, which means that anyone, regardless of skill level can help. There's an old saying in leadership psychology that says "People support what they create", and our village will certainly be a place of support, connection & acceptance.

Phase 5: The School

Let's be clear here: We're using the word school only in a marketing sense. Our "school" won't resemble much of a traditional, K-12 system. We won't have formal instruction. We won't have a curriculum, or dedicated teachers. What we will have is a homeschooling/unschooling collective, based on the principles and research of people like Dr. Peter Gray, whose research shows that, when given a supportive environment, people of all ages are perfectly capable of learning without being forcibly taught.

That being said, we aren't against formal instruction at all. There is an immense value to being taught by someone who is much more experienced than yourself. However, basic motivational theory states that the more a motivation is externalized (carrot & stick), the less internal drive someone has. So in order for learning to occur, and continue to occur even when no one is there to enforce it, the persons drive to learn needs to come from within.

We've found that for those people that seem to not have an internal drive to learn, what is really going on is that they are so shut down, overwhelmed & stressed out that they have completely burnt out on learning in any sort of forced or structured way. But we've also found that even for those people, learning still occurs daily, just not in a traditional school setting.

Our schooling model will be based heavily upon letting kids explore what they are passionate about, and giving them tools, resources & connections to broaden and deepen their passions. In other words: There's a big difference between learning math in a classroom with a chalkboard, doing math worksheets over and over... versus learning math because you wanted to build a secret hideout and need help measuring and calculating the various parts of construction.

Phase 6: The Expansion

Once we've fully developed our facilities, tested our assumptions and refined our designs, we'll be ready to expand. In addition to building additional Acceptance centers around the country (and maybe the world!), we'll also publish all of our plans, procedures, blueprints and methods so that anyone can build a similar facility using the hard work of their local community.

For the centers that Acceptance will run, we intend to expand slowly, based on actual, proven demand, and in a financially & socially responsible manner. 

We Need Your Help

During the summer of 2017, we held camping & volunteer weekends at a location provided free-of-charge to Acceptance.  Over 100 individuals, primarily families, participated in those weekends, and the results that came to the participants were often profound.

We heard kids say things like "When I'm out here, I don't feel like I have Autism".

This year, we're continuing to offer camping activities at our temporary location in Centralia, WA, while we work to raise money to purchase a 20 acre parcel literally next to our current location so we can start building our permanent facilities. 

One of the big things we think that is missing in the current conversation around people that don't fit into the world (such as those on the autistic spectrum) is how the physical environment and space can affect them. I'm sure you've heard how restaurants and other public places are designed to maximize certain objectives (McDonalds uses bright colors to encourage you not to linger, Jazz music in bars increases tips, etc).

We're using those same principles, but optimizing for healing, space & relaxation. For example, according to the book "Welcome To Your World: How The Built Environment Shapes Our Lives", "One recent study of the learning progress of 751 pupils in classrooms in thirty-four different British schools identified six design parameters - color, choice, complexity, flexibility, light and connectivity - that significantly affect learning, and demonstrated that on average, built environmental factors impact a students learning by an astonishing 25%. The difference in learning between a student in the best designed classroom and one in the worst designed classroom was equal to the progress that a typical student makes over an entire academic year." 

We need your help to raise the $250,000 necessary to purchase the land and start to build our permanent facilities. Having permanent facilities will allow us to start conducting programs for children, teenagers & young adults, as well as weekend and week long programs for families. It will also allow for longer term stays, which means that we can start to offer internship programs to young adults & others that are looking to find their place in the world, as well as those that need a bit more time to relax, recharge and reconnect.

We'll also be able to offer employment, housing & a built-in sense of community to the people we serve. They'll work in the various parts of the retreat center, learning valuable skills, making friends, and contributing to the growth, relaxation and healing of our weekly participants.

Land Campaign

$4,260 of $250,000 raised
$
Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Donation Total: $10.00

{amount} donation plus {fee_amount} to help cover fees.

Acceptance: A Transformational Place is a Washington State 501(c)(3) pending non-profit. Please consult with a tax professional if you have any questions about deducting your donation.