This summer, fifty-two campers who use augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) attended Cool Communicators’ weeks held at the 3 BC Lions Easter Seals camps in Squamish (Lower Mainland), Shawnigan (Vancouver Island) and Winfield (Okanagan).
Campers had the opportunity participate in amazing outdoor activities such as soaring from a giant swing, bounding on a trampoline, cooling off in the pool, scaling a climbing wall, navigating a low ropes course, and participating in a variety of waterfront activities, campfires, campouts, karaoke, talent shows, arts and crafts and theme-related activities. Easter Seals camps are staffed with trained personnel and have adaptable equipment to provide campers with special needs a full camp experience. The kids have a wonderful time!
Campers brought their AAC systems to camp, which ranged from communication boards to complex speech generating devices controlled eye gaze. The majority of campers received their technology from SET-BC with a few having technology from autism funding, school districts or parents.
The SLP teams trained the camp staff and modeled effective communication strategies. They ensured that the campers’ technology was setup appropriately for activities and utilized as much as possible during all camp activities. Having this team available provides a great opportunity for campers and camp staff alike to learn from local experts. Camp also provides the SLP support team an opportunity to learn from their peers, and of course from campers.
Camp is a great chance for campers to practice skills learned at school and home in a community environment with others with similar challenges and technology. In many communities, the user of AAC may be the only person who communicates this way in their whole school. As some campers attended who had never tried technology to support their communication needs, the SLP teams offered low tech communication boards and trial communication devices to ensure all campers had a voice
During these weeks, the camp staff personnel were supported by SETBC consultants and SLP Support teams which provided the technical expertise to support these special campers and allow them to participate fully in all camp activities. And participate they did! They sang (using pre-recorded camp songs). They expressed their needs, wants, comments and feelings. They made whole camp announcements. They shared their camp experiences with photo stories and videos on their devices. They shared their talent from singing to dancing to telling jokes. They communicated and people listened.
Fun was had by all.