Join us this summer for family camping, a heroes journey, or Dungeons & Dragons.
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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

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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.