Camp Discovery residential camp has a 1:4 staff-to-camper ratio.

Camp Discovery is ideal for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder who will enjoy a summer camp experience with a high degree of structure and small group activities. Campers should be able to positively interact and safely participate within small groups, as this camp provides 1:4 support.

Camp Discovery is held at True Friends/Courage North, a beautiful 100-acre facility on Lake George near Bemidji, Minn. In 2021, campers will stay in cabin groups of four, according to age, gender, and interests. Cabins have restrooms and electricity. Campers will enjoy their meals in a dining hall or on an outdoor deck.

Camp activities include swimming, kayaking, canoeing, hiking in Itasca State Park, arts and crafts, nature experiences, recreational games, live action role-playing games, and more. Camp Discovery also includes special evening activities. Campers participate in small group discussions and activities that focus on special interests and making a connection with others. Adults with ASD work as mentors, providing empathetic, positive role modeling throughout the week.

Camp Discovery During the Pandemic

As the pandemic continues, regulations change daily. A complete list of guidelines for this 2021 summer camp season will be available in May. Below are possible precautions that will be put into place to keep our campers and staff as safe as possible:

  • AuSM and partnering camp locations reserve the right to make specific asks for campers to provide official copies of COVID-19 test results in a certain window and to minimize risk of exposure in the week before camp.
  • Campers must be transported to and from camp by a caregiver. Drop-off and pick-up times will be staggered to reduce crowds and contact.
  • Campers must be willing to have a daily forehead temperature taken.
  • Campers must be able to follow social distancing guidelines, wash hands and use hand sanitizer, follow verbal or visual prompts for safety guidance, and be willing to wear a mask.
  • Additional changes to elements of the camp experience may include meal service, sleeping quarters, activity offerings, and interaction with others.

Camp Discovery Directors

Jill Pring, MEd, is an ASD consultant for Northern Lights Special Education Cooperative working with students from birth through age 21 and has 18 years of experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum both as a special education teacher and as a consultant. She also teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses on ASD for the University of Minnesota Duluth. This is her 11th year working with Camp Discovery.

Nichelle Zimmer, MS, is a school psychologist for the Forest Lake Area School District and has more than 20 years of experience as an Autism Resource Specialist, working at both the elementary and middle school levels. This is her 12th year at Camp Discovery.

Lacey Hendrickx, BS, Special Education, is a Special Education teacher at Sebeka Public School. She works with elementary students. She also has experience working with high school students. She has eight years of experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum as a special education teacher. This is her 6th year working with Camp Discovery.

Mike Cohen, MS, Special Education, is a special education teacher in Cloquet, Minn. in an elementary setting. He has worked with individuals with autism in schools for the past nine years. This is Cohen’s third year at Camp Discovery.


True Friends/Courage North, Lake George, Minn.


To be announced


2022 information available soon.