Inclusive Summer Camp Pilot Project: Reflections and Next Steps

Author-Avatar Kim Elliott

1/15/2020 11:14 PM

Planning Curriculum
The SUN camp staff were amazing and open partners in this project! However, after the pilot project, we had a debriefing meeting and it was agreed that it would be beneficial for us to co-plan curriculum for next summer. The pilot, overall, had a very positive impact but the staff felt a little overwhelmed learning the adaptations on the fly while they were implementing the curriculum that they had planned in the Spring. By co-planning curriculum, we would be able to imbed some ideas of adaptations from the outset. Assistive Technology (AT) and working with children with physical disabilities and CCN was not only new for the campers, it was also new for the staff. To increase their own familiarity and comfort with how to include all children and imbed use of AT, they felt that co-planning and building a relationship with us would greatly improve this process for them as professionals.

We are in the midst of setting out a plan for co-planning curriculum for the Summer of 2020.

Number of Adults & Goals

We quickly realized during the first day of camp, that there were far too many adults involved in the process. Since this was a pilot and there were a lot of partners involved in the project, erring on the side of too much support was preferred over too little support. In the next phase of the project we will want to streamline the support.

Specifically, there may be too many ‘goals’ trying to be addressed at once in the project. The goals were as follows:
1. Campers with CCN to have access to community-based camps and be meaningfully included
2. Campers at the local camps to feel more comfortable with disability and AT and to form friendships across perceived barriers
3. SUN camp staff to learn about and feel comfortable and confident in supporting children with CCN who use AT
4. Portland Parks & Rec staff to be trained and proficient on how to be a support person who helps bridge gaps for inclusion without unintentionally becoming a barrier
5. Graduate SLP students to gain AAC experience

The first 3 goals were, and continue to be, essential to the project. As we proceed, goals 4 & 5 will have to be prioritized since those are the goals that created ‘too many adults’ involved. There are benefits and drawbacks to each of the choices. The benefits of including the grad students is that this intensive, hands-on experience with AAC will likely be very beneficial to them as they transition in to their SLP professions, where they can continue to support children with CCN. We heard from one parent that she thought this was essential to the pilot project. The benefit of including the Parks & Rec staff instead of the grad students is that they could be available for multiple weeks in the summer should the children with CCN want to continue to attend camp. Another parent highlighted the importance of training the Parks & Rec staff. We are in the process of discussing the goals of the project with the involved stakeholders to determine our approach for Summer 2020.

Get to Know You Week

The pre-camp sessions were invaluable to the graduate students to have the time and space to learn specifics on each campers communication tools, learn how to adapt activities, and to prep the children with CCN on what to expect at camp (and to get to know the grad students who would be supporting them). Parents also gave feedback that this was an important and helpful component to the camp experience since it can take time to understand their child’s tools and cues.


The YouTube Video below includes clips of feedback we received via interview on the SUN Camp Project (2 parents + 1 SUN staff)

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