Travel camp offers adventures for those with autism

Frontier Travel Camp founder wanted everyone to have chance to see world

Booking a trip and exploring new places is an exciting time for many.

But for people with autism, traveling can bring challenges and few options.

But one camp is changing the lives of people on the spectrum, like Heyden Fenney, and opening their eyes to new adventures.

Fenney has not always had the travel bug. Autism used to keep him stuck at home.

But a program called Frontier Travel Camp gave him his independence.

Scott Fineman created the camp because he loves seeing the world and felt everyone should have the opportunity. It's a travel program for late teens and adults on the autism spectrum.

“We’ve been to probably 30 countries between Europe and North America,” Fineman said.

The camp, which has been operating for 21 years, takes travelers from age 16 to adults in their 40s and 50s. The average cost per week of the trips is $3,000.

Fenney said he helps pay for his trips by selling artwork.

“We have a group between 25 and 30 people; our staff ratio is 5 to 1,” Fineman said.

Nurses, social workers and speech pathologists are among the professional staff who keep encouraging their “campers” to take on new adventures.

“National parks, hiking through Yosemite, Yellowstone, really getting them to be active,” Fineman said.

Fenney, 26, recalled a trip to Hawaii.

His mom, Joanna Fenney, said he wasn't always adventurous.

“Terrified of rain, terrified of big trees, buildings,” she said.

But Heyden Fenney's first trip at 18 changed everything, his mom said.

“I cried when he left, and he cried when he came home,” Joanna Fenney said.

Heyden Fenney said the best thing about traveling is the new friends he makes.

“So I could eat with them and have a chat with them. It makes me happy,” he said.

His next port of call? A Caribbean cruise in January.

For more information on upcoming trips, visit www.frontiertravelcamp.com or https://www.facebook.com/FrontierTravelCamp/ or call 866-750-CAMP.