What do we do?
The Tourette Syndrome Camp USA, founded in 1994, is a residential camping program designed for girls and boys ages 8 - 16+ whose primary diagnosis is TS, and to a lesser degree, OCD and ADD/ADHD. The goal of the camp is to allow children with TS an opportunity to meet other children, share similar experiences and coping mechanisms in a fun, safe and positive environment.
The TS camp is run concurrently with a traditional camp week. While there are separate cabins for the TS campers, all programming is done with the rest of the camp. However, we do have our own group time with the TS campers so they have an opportunity to share their experiences with each other. In addition, Camp Duncan is home to many medical camps such as ours which provide a safe, positive and understanding environment.
There is a nurse to handle medication and medical issues for the TS campers.
This year for our campers who are 16, we are adding a Counsellor in Training Program CIT. These campers will be given leadership opportunities that will help with a transition to possible future positions on our staff.
This is not a therapeutic program and the camp has some limitations in accepting children whose needs are beyond the scope of its design.
Campers must be able to handle routine daily living skills (i.e. dressing, self hygiene) and have the ability to function in a group setting. While the program is modified to meet the needs of most children whose primary diagnosis is TS, experience has demonstrated that not every child with TS is capable of participating in the camp program.
Monica Berg has been on camp staff for 16 years. When she was 16 years old, she began her camp “career” as a junior counselor. Monica decided to become involved when her younger brother Sean (who is now also on staff) started attending camp. Monica became the Camp Director in the summer of 2011 after serving two years as Assistant Director. She is a Special Education teacher in a suburb of Chicago where she has given multiple in-service presentations about Tourette’s syndrome and has become her school districts resource person for Tourette’s syndrome. Monica graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education and is certified as a Learning Behavior Specialist 1. She is currently working towards a Master’s Degree at Concordia University Chicago. She will hold a graduate degree in Curriculum and Instruction (M.S. Ed) with an endorsement in English as a Second Language (ESL) in December 2013. Monica credits her brother as well as TS camp for her decision to pursue a degree and a career as a Special Education teacher. Watching her brother struggle through school pushed her to become an advocate for children with special needs. She looks forward to camp every summer and has joked that she is now a “lifer” with TS camp!
Marleen Martinez Sundgaard has been Assistant Camp Director for six years. She joined the camp staff 8 years ago as a young adult with TS. She has been featured as part of the Family Portraits of Adults with TS in the Tourette Association of America Newsletter. Marleen has a degree in Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering from the University of Washington. She has been involved with numerous spacecraft missions for NASA. Most notably the Orion spacecraft being built to send humans to Mars and the GRAIL twin satellites sent to the moon. She currently works at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Europa Mission. Her work was featured in the documentary “Makers: Women in Space” on PBS.
Director of Camper Success
Sarah Matchen has been on camp staff since 2001, starting as a counselor and moving into her current position after earning her Masters in Social Work. Sarah has her LCSW and the 51 weeks of the year she is not at camp she works as a crisis therapist with children, adolescents and families while dreaming of being back at camp!
Scott Loeff is the founder and president of Tourette Syndrome Camp USA. He started the camp back in 1994
Janis Sanchez is our wonderful camp nurse. She is responsible for the health and welfare of the campers and is in charge of the first aid building. Her duties include checking campers into and out of camp, treating sick or injured persons, keeping a medical log of all treatments and dispensing all internal medication. She is responsible for taking possession of medication and, when possible, talking to parents about camper health concerns during registration. After the health screenings at camp, she informs counselors which children in their cabins need medication on a regular basis. Upon completion of the camp session, she returns medicine to parents as they pick up their child.