The College Living Experience’s (CLE) Summer Residential Camp is a great way for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to transition from high school to post-secondary education. The students have a support system so they are not alone when they are immersed into the college experience. Students attend the residential camp for two weeks, from June 18th to July 1st . The tuition of $3,800 covers housing, activities, and meals for the two weeks, and there is a $75 application fee as well.

The application to the CLE’s Summer Residential Camp includes personal, family, and educational information, as well as short answer responses to “getting to know you” questions. The application also includes a letter of recommendation that must be completed by a professional, educator or counselor, that has worked closely with the student.

The Summer Residential Camp is also called the Summer Career Exploration because it teaches students skills they can use once they begin working, and they also learn social skills by working with a team to explore different types of work environments, and participating in daily team building activities. The various work environments allow the students to develop skills such as career readiness, self-determination, leadership and interpersonal skills, and organization and time management.

The CLE is closely partnered with local community agencies and local volunteer facilities to integrate the students not only into the workforce but into the Fort Lauderdale community. Through the agencies and volunteer placements, students will learn about customer service, proper work etiquette, and on the job duties.

College isn’t just about learning workplace skills, though, and the CLE’s summer program prepares its students for all aspects of college. Once they are finished with their service projects and trainings each day, the fun begins! Students participate in all sorts of fun activities, from exercise and sports to fun outings! These are daily group outings to enhance social skills both with their fellow students and in the workplace. They also are then presented with a variety of situations to use their social skills, including new settings. They also have the ability to reflect on their social experiences with the CLE psychologist and their focus groups every week.

Students will also importantly learn what it means to live in a college dorm. These dorms are supervised, and each student has a roommate. Students are then able and encouraged to practice practical independent living skills. They become comfortable with utilizing public transportation, managing finances, meal preparation, room organization, and hygiene routines and laundry.

The College Living Experience’s Summer Residential Camp is a very effective and supportive environment for students to immerse themselves into a college-like environment without having to be completely on their own. The HDS Foundation highly recommends the CLE Summer Residential Camp to any high school student with an intellectual or developmental disability who is interested in pursuing a post-secondary degree or joining the workforce. Best of luck to those who apply, it is sure to be an amazing experience!