ROME – Some children rely on technology to communicate with others. One summer camp’s goal is to boost confidence in those campers with disabilities.
Every summer children look forward to going to camp but imagine you’re the only one who can’t speak, or maybe you need a communication device to say something.
Camp Communicate at Pine Tree Camp gives a five-day program for children who are nonverbal.
“Communication happens everywhere. It’s one of the most important skills that we can have as human beings,” said Linda Bonnar, director of communication pathways. “We really want to impact that and show these children they can communicate in typical ways and in typical activities just like everybody else.”
Campers spend the week making friends, learning new skills and boosting their confidence in their communication abilities.
Not only is it for the campers, Bonnar said everyone becomes family.
“We try to make an overall program that will benefit both the campers and their parents,” said Bonnar.
“When I come here it’s like I’m home as well because this is where we all understand each other. Parents are like, ‘We got your back. We know what’s going on,'” said Carolyn Sweet, the mother of a camper.
Parents take part in games and activities that provide them with tools to help outside of camp.
Bonnar said the activities allow the campers to use the devices to their benefit and build on their skills in a barrier-free environment.
“They’re showing others what they can do, they’re showing others where their words are, they’re helping their peers and I think they feel empowered. I think they feel pretty darn proud of themselves,” said Bonnar.
Sweet said her daughter is happiest at Camp Communicate
“For a parent with a special needs child that’s all you want is for them to be happy,” said Sweet. “When you find a place like this who just brings out the joy that your child has to offer is fantastic.”
Sweet said her daughter has a silly personality. At camp, she can be herself.
“The best of her comes out. It’s just awesome,” said Sweet.