DALLAS — At 12 years old, Cam Collins has a gift many adults wish they had: he’s not afraid to be 100% authentic.
If you ask him a question, you’re going to get an honest answer. When asked what he loves most about his family, he’s quick to respond.
“My brother is older and he’s really kind,” Cam said. “My favorite thing about my mom is that she loves me. My favorite thing about my dad is he takes me on adventures. My favorite thing about myself is that I’m a genius.”
He calls himself a genius because he takes pride in the fact that many people with autism, such as himself, excel in certain areas, from mathematics and technology to music.
“My one word to describe my brother, I would say he’s imaginative,” said Cam’s twin brother Field Collins. “He just loves to be helpful and kind, and he wants to be the best person he can be.”
Cam’s love for life has inspired his father, Glen Collins, to start a business that makes outdoor games with a mission of supporting autism nonprofits. Based in Dallas, the company, called Autside, is a play on words. The company specializes in outdoor games including portable cornhole boards, pickleball sets and giant Jenga sets. They’re trying to make a name for themselves in the outdoor gaming market.
“I conceived Autside after years of passively studying the yard games space as a branding professional and a yard game enthusiast,” said Glen Collins. “A chance lunch of tacos and beers with friends challenged me to explore the space more, but with a design-focused approach. I decided I might be onto something and couldn't shake the idea.”
A few days later, Glen Collins said he was “noodling on cornhole while being entertained by Cam,” and it was in that moment he decided the brand could use “play to help families and friends unplug and connect,” while contributing to the same play therapy that is so transformative for people like Cam.
As an entrepreneur running a successful branding agency, Glen Collins knew what it would take to create another business and couldn’t wait to give back to the autism community. Autside gives a percentage of every product sale to select nonprofit partners offering play therapy for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
“For those with ASD, play therapy can improve social and emotional skills, help them think in different ways, increase language or communication skills and expand the ways they play sports and games and relate to other people,” said Glen Collins.
Since their launch not even a year ago, Cam and Field have enjoyed the abundance of games and the family has big dreams for the future of the small startup.
“We want to give a million dollars in the first five years of business to our nonprofit partners that support autism individuals,” said Glen Collins.
His wife, Alice Collins, believes they’ll reach that goal and is proud to be able to give back to organizations like ACEing Autism. The Los Angeles-based organization aims to help children with autism grow, develop and benefit from social connections and fitness through affordable tennis programming.
“Our family obviously has been affected by autism,” Alice Collins said. “We’ve used it as an opportunity. We’ve come up with a creative way to embrace it and give back to the community that’s done so much for us.”
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