Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mark your calendars! We've got some great events headed your way!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Growing Pains" with Katie Franzen
Come out and join us for:
  • Spirit Night at CHICK-fil-A (Sandy Springs) on Nov 14.
  • 1st Raffle drawing for CHANGE4CHANGE will be on Nov 18. Get your coins in ASAP, so you will be eligible for great prizes!
  • Spirit Night at STEVIE B'S Pizza (Johns Creek) on Nov 22.
Save the Dates for:
Thank you
  • To Adam Kurgan and Josh Edelman, Learning on the Log received over $1500 from their Basketball Shoot-A-Thon fundraiser!!!!
  • To Dunwoody Kroger for agreeing to donate Sugar Cookies for our "Cookies with Santa" event in December.
  • To SignARama Decatur for providing Special Event Signs for us, free of charge!
- Katie Franzen

"5 Rules of Learning on the Log"

After hours of processing, reflection, and deliberation, Learning on the Log has come up with 5 great rules/suggestions/guidelines that any staff, parent, volunteer, or counselor in training (CIT) need to follow when on our outings.

1. Our main goal is to INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE.
2. Talk to the kids, not the adults.
3. Talk to the kids at their level. - Adult conversations should be done after the program.
4. Play so that you both have fun. - Find the inner child in you.
5. When in doubt, follow the lead of a Learning on the Log staff.

- Armann Fenger

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Growing Pains" with Katie Franzen

You can show your support by joining us for one or all of the following Spirit Nights at local restaurants. PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES THAT LIVE IN THESE AREAS TO COME OUT AND SUPPORT LEARNING ON THE LOG

  • Chick-fil-A (Sandy Springs) Thursday night NOVEMBER 14 stop in anytime between 5:30PM-7:30PM (You must tell them you are with Learning on the Log---ALL Dine In, Take Out, and Drive Thru orders count)
  • Stevie B's Pizza (Johns Creek) Friday night NOVEMBER 22 stop in anytime between 6:30PM-9:00PM (You must tell them you are with Learning on the Log)
  • Zaxby's AND American Red Cross (Alpharetta) Saturday DECEMBER 7 stop in anytime between 11:00AM-3:00PM---SAVE THE DATE --- ALL dine in, take out, drive thru order count. And, for your convenience, you can donate blood at the American Red Cross bus that will also be there to support us!!

Our next free family event will be on Saturday December 14, 2013. COOKIES WITH SANTA from 12pm-3pm. Bring your family to take a picture with Santa and decorate cookies with your Learning on the Log friends!! ---details to come

Don't forget to fill your change jars and bring them in, so you can enter our next raffle. GREAT PRIZES to be won!!!

MOM's Support Group
Next meeting on November 14, 2013 at 7pm. Contact Jen deCastro for more details: The meeting will be held at our LOTL facility: 230 Hammond Dr Suite 330 Atlanta GA 30328.

Please contact Katie Franzen with any questions

"When is it a good time?"

When is the best time to INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE with your child? This is a commonly asked question, and understandably so.  We are all very busy in our daily life with work, school, sports, and other extra curricular activities. Many parents spend hours driving their kids from one activity to another, so when can we find time to build meaningful relationships?

The answer is simple... ANYTIME:
Driving around town, INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE
Cooking dinner at home, INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE
Doing yard work on the weekend, INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE
Cleaning the house or garage, INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE
Doing homework at night, INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE
Waiting for siblings to finish, INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE

At Learning on the Log we INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE in every location we visit. It does not matter if we are hiking, swimming, playing sports, rock climbing, or commuting in the van - our goal and focus remains the same. We INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE, we develop relationships that have meaning, and we teach social skills that can be generalized to other areas of a child's life.

- Armann Fenger

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Words = Attitude"

This week I found an old blue bracelet from Autism Speaks. It has the words "Express, Embrace, Engage, Enable, and Expand" engraved in it. These are excellent words to encourage families and professionals to treat children on the Autistic Spectrum in a caring, supportive, and social way.

Autism Speaks' attitude correlates to our mission and goals. Learning on the Log's main words are INTERACT, RELATE, and COMMUNICATE. It reminds our staff to relentlessly pursue social skills goals above anything else, and help each child develop meaningful relationships with peers and staff. By participating in meaningful activities and interacting within meaningful relationships, the social skills learned here have a greater chance at being generalized to other parts of the child's life.

We continue to emphasize and market our 3 main goals because it is the attitude and philosophy in which our staff approach each session (no matter what the activity is).  It is a proven formula since 2001, and thousands of kids have benefited from it.

Two families agree:

"My husband and I often say to ourselves, we can never leave Atlanta because where on earth will our son find this kind of loving, healthy, aware, amazing community that he has found in Learning on the Log."

"They are doing excellent work, not easy work either, on a daily basis and we can't thank them enough for the sense of belonging, self-esteem, excitement, and love that they've provided for our son for the past 7 years"

- Armann Fenger

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Why Learning on the Log is Different"

Our core principles include INTERACTRELATE, and COMMUNICATE, but what does that really mean?

It means that participants at Learning on the Log develop social skills in natural situations such as hiking on a trail, playing games in a pool, navigating a playground, climbing on a rock wall, or testing their skills on a sports field.

Through the development of friendships with our staff and other children, each child encounters scenarios that will have a greater meaning to them personally, therefore motivating them to try again. Lessons learned during meaningful interactions, have a greater chance of generalizing to other social situations, such as at home with parents and siblings, and at school with teachers and peers.

We believe that social skills and strategies are learned through spontaneous and organic situations. Our staff works very hard to nurture and support any conflicts (misunderstandings, frustrations, anger, or other challenging feelings) that arise naturally when a group of kids are put together. This emphasis of processing charged social-emotional episodes, sets Learning on the Log apart from other recreational programs who only emphasizes a sensory experience. Any social growth there is incidental. At Learning on the Log, we cultivate lasting social development.
- Armann Fenger

Monday, October 21, 2013

We've had some great events for LOTL families the last couple of weeks! Check out our Facebook for more pictures from these events and much more!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Executive Point of View: "Keep it Simple and Short"

"Keep it Short and Simple"

As all of us interact, we rely heavily on language as a tool for giving and receiving messages, and we often communicate at a rapid rate.  One of the counselors this summer reflected that she uses language to help the people she is with to feel relaxed and welcomed, and if the situation is anything but relaxed then the number of words she uses increases. 

Within Learning on the Log, processing language can be rather difficult, and when adults are not careful the language can become complex.  Our advice is to keep it short and simple.  This will allow each child to have a better chance at understanding the adult, and have a better chance at responding.  Keeping language interaction simple, increases the possibility for the interactions to be more successful, and confidence to starts to grow

For example, recently there was a misunderstanding between two students that resulted in some shoving.  As the emotions were high from both kids, our staff did a wonderful job of clarifying the situation so that neither child felt defensive or attacked.  They had an opportunity to re-live the situation and learn some positive social cues.  In this situation the two boys apologized for their part in the shoving and re-joined the larger group.

- Armann Fenger

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Executive Point of View: "You'll Never Walk Alone"

"You’ll Never Walk Alone"

My favorite English Premier Soccer League team is Liverpool. I have been rooting for them since I was a young kid pretending to be the famous Kenny Dalglish. Their slogan, since 1963, is a song called “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” This is sung loudly and proudly before each home game, by all the fans. This is a great slogan for Liverpool since they are cheered for worldwide.
At Learning on the Log, we also want our fans to know that “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” We have constantly increased the number of available programs, built a vast network of references of other professionals, and are trying to build a community where each family feels welcome and at home.
As they sing in Liverpool:

Walk on...
Walk on...
With hope...
In your heart...
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
Come walk with Learning on the Log, and never walk alone... again

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Summer Camp Memory #3

Lesson #3: A Mud bath is just as rewarding on a river bank as it is in a fancy spa

How to get a mud bath at Learning on the Log

1)   Lay down in a muddy area

2)   Ask counselors to spread mud over you

(two counselors will enhance the experience)

3)   Make sure it goes everywhere

4)   Smile

5)   Give hugs if happy

Friday, March 1, 2013

Summer Camp Memory #2

Summer Camp Lesson 2:  Medals were a huge it at the end of the camp

A new tradition that we started this year, was to have a medal ceremony at the end of each camp week. It has been incredible to see the way the kids respond to this. Some of them are very shy and uncertain about the attention, some of the kids LOVE the attention, some of them need extra support to walk up and accept their medal, some of them take it off immediately after receiving them because they don't like the feel of the fabric on their necks. But, when their name is called...and all the staff are cheering for them and commenting on what a great job they did at camp, EVERY single camper, gets the biggest smile on their face! We always try to make sure their accolades are individualized and we want them to understand that all their hard work has paid off. 

Do your kids ever talk about the medal ceremony or share how they have felt when they received their medals? 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Summer Camp Memories

As we get ready for SUMMER CAMP 2013, it is good to reminisce on last year's lessons and experiences.  

Lesson 1: Use spray sun tan lotion.

Spray is Better

The other week we ran out of spray sun tan lotion and had to use our back up cream lotion.  In theory there should not be a big difference between the two, but reality proved something very different.  Generally, many summer time campers reluctantly allow the spray to be put on them, so the cream lotion proved to push their limits.  Staff was diligent in making sure adequate protection was used and that meant sometimes using a bit too much.  Like in the picture above, many were in disbelieve over seeing so much white stuff on their bodies, and one commented: "I am never doing this again."  Even after jumping into the pool the lotion was visible for some time.  Throughout the swim time there were many conversations about how uncomfortable this lotion was and how would it ever disappear.  Thankfully plenty of spray bottle were brought back to the pool, and that kind of situation was avoided.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


This week we wanted to change things by posting a VLOG.

Brick Heck is quirky, but a LOTL favorite, character on the ABC show "the Middle".  He struggles with his interactions and with his relationships, but has a fun and unique way of relating.

Watch a short video clip of Brick navigating his world.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Top Qualities in a LOTL staff

These are the highest rated attributes when hiring LOTL staff:

Hard working
Child focused
A lot of affect
Interest in child development
Open for coaching
Willing to take risks
Willing to try new things
Comfortable in chaos
Adapting to changing situations
Comfortable working as part of a team
High endurance level both Physically and emotionally
Comfortable canoeing or kayaking

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Top five most wanted Summer Camp activities:
  1. Water gun fight
  2. "Flying" in the pool
  3. Karate
  4. Canoeing/Kayaking/Rafting
  5. Medal Ceremony

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What to Expect.

When signing up for our programs it is important to know what to expect from us.  Here are 5 expectations that can be counted on:
  1. Staff will be child focused and engaged.  This means that all of the energy will be placed on interacting, engaging, and developing relationships with the children.  It is not a time for staff to be socializing, to be passively watching the games, nor to be making afternoon/evening plans. 
  2. The social skills learned during our programs are learned in an ORGANIC way.  That means that all of the social skills are learned during natural interactions and during natural relationships.  This is the way all of us learn to socialize, and the way all of us practice these skills.
  3. Our programs are active and fun.  The settings we offer include hiking, swimming, team building activities, team sports, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, and tumbling. 
  4. We challenge our participants.  Growth can not happen unless we are pushed outside our comfort zone.  Dealing with uncomfortable feelings is a big part of developing social skills, and being properly supported can grow confidence.  Positively navigating outside the comfort zone will grow that comfort zone.
  5. Developing MEANING is key to generalizing.  Finding meaning in both the activity as well as the relationships is the secret formula for being able to generalize skills learned with us to other areas in life.  Finding meaning in a peer relationship drives the individuals to work harder to maintaining good interaction and communication, and it becomes a natural way of seeking friendship.  The skills can then be used in a different setting where a meaningful relationship has developed.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When in Rome...Do as Romans

This is a famous quote that encourages individuals to go with the flow of the environment he or she is in.  When in Rome, Italy an individual should expect to hear a different language being spoken, smell different smells, see different traffic patterns, and experience very different ways of interacting.  This does not mean, however, that an individual in Rome has to give up on a personal goals or aspirations.  It simply means that it would be better to attain an individual goal by going with the flow of the Roman way.

The same applies within our programs.  We always have a clear goal of fostering and growing social relationships within our groups, but the manner in which we do that can be different in each group and in each individual.  For example, we might capitalize on someone's interest in car's, dinosaurs,  or trains.  There is no right or wrong way of accomplishing our goals, but finding the unique and local paths is important to create MEANING in the interactions and in relationships.  The meaning is what helps each individual to carry the skills they learn with us into new social environments.