Unique Camp Offers Non-Verbal Children Summer Fun

Published: Jun. 29, 2017 at 5:59 PM EDT
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Imagine everyday you're the only one in your entire school who can't talk and you have to use a special high tech communication device, like a touchscreen, just to say what you want.

You can feel kind of lonely, but not at Camp Communicate where everyone is the same.

Linda Bonnar, Camp Director says, "We are a unique program that brings in children that use high tech communication devices, like computers. It allows them to communicate just like you and I just through a different method."

The camp's five-day program focuses on the independence kids gain when they are able to communicate.

Campers participate in summer activities including outdoor games, swimming and boating, nature walks, team building and social gatherings.

Parents also join in on the fun and benefit from workshops to learn how to better support their child's use of their device.

Lisa McGlone, a parent says, "This is a place where he is no different, where he's able to do all the things that any other kid can do. This is going to promote their communication and people are going to be able to hear them whether they hear them with their eyes, their ears, or just through their hearts."

The program takes place at Pine Tree Camp's fully accessible facility with staff and volunteers experienced in accessible recreation, speech language pathology, and communicative technology.

Tara Burdet, a volunteer says, "It's amazing. It's empowering to see the campers grow and become more independent as they use their communication devices."

And parents say they all carry the experience and knowledge learned through camp with them.

McGlone says, "This is a little different than other places. What happens at Camp Communicate doesn't stay at Camp Communicate. It propels you and projects you throughout the year. It's an amazing place where he feels welcome, and as part of a group, part of a team, part of a family."