Lions and tigers and … boa constrictors?

The Team Mario Fun Fridays Summer Camp at the UTRGV Edinburg Campus took explorers on a trip into the wild with Animal Adventures, starting with a nursery rhyme to the Shel Silverstein poem, “Boa Constrictor.”

UTRGV has hosted the summer camp for several years, with each activity designed for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Founded by Melinda Moreno – whose son, Mario, was diagnosed with ASD after his second birthday – Team Mario is designed to educate, support and advocate for children and families affected by autism.

“I feel like these summer camps give children the opportunity to make friends, have fun, grow and find acceptance,” said Lisa Beccera, the organization’s program director. “We often take for granted all the little things that come so easy to us. Our camp gives children an opportunity to find their own voice and believe in themselves. It’s amazing what one camp can do in the lives of children.”

During Animal Adventures, the children made animal puppets, painted animal boxes and went into a “Time Machine” to visit dinosaurs at UTRGV’s H-E-B Planetarium.

Fun Fridays Summer Camp takes place every Friday from June 14 to July 12, with each day dedicated to a different theme.

Each camp is filled with activities for participants, ranging from crafts to games to creating their own snacks. More than 20 participants signed up for the camp ranging in age from 8 to 15.

To learn more about Team Mario, visit