Summer Camps for the Hearing Impaired


Summer holds many meanings for all of us; it can be hot and humid, we all enjoying the beautiful sunshine, blooming flowers, and trees, barbecues and summer’s sweet treat, watermelon. The kids are out on their bikes, the boys of summer are out on the field, school is out and vacation season is here!
For many of us, summers also bring memories of campfires, smores, hot dogs, first loves and cozy cabins. Just because your child has a hearing impairment, doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy all the benefits of camping and a taste of outdoor life safely and securely.
We want to be sure you know about the summer camp opportunities that are available across our beautiful country. Gallaudet University offers a site that identifies camps in each state, and nearly every state has at least one offering. There are overnight, day camps, family camping options, and you may even find one that specifically caters to the things your child enjoys most.
Finding the Right Camp
As you begin your search for the camp that is right for you and your child, we understand that making an informed and thoughtful decision is essential. We suggest you consider:

  • What activities does your child enjoy?
    • Camps are camps, and in many cases, all offer the same general activities including:
      • Swimming (these camps use visual cues like flags rather than whistles)
      • Archery
      • Arts and crafts
      • Canoeing
      • Rope courses
      • Campfires (where flashlights are used to maintain attention)
    • Are the counselors also hearing impaired? Or ask about the percentage of advisors who are hearing impaired.
    • Do you want a day camp or something longer term?
    • Does the camp support lip reading, American Sign Language (ASL), cueing or verbal languages?

Camp Staffs
Counselors with severe hearing loss are usually trained or already know ASL and are typically known as CODAs, child of deaf adult counselors. Staff members who are from the deaf community are generally well equipped and experienced in safety and cultural diversity. If fact, many counselors are former campers who have grown with the desire to give back to the deaf community.
Attending a camp may sound intimidating to some, but our children will receive many advantages:

  • It’s fun
  • Learn new skills
  • Develop more confidence
  • Gain social skill experience
  • Make new, forever friends or pen pals
  • Particularly helpful if your child is mainstreamed in school during the school year
  • Builds self-esteem

We love our children, and we want what is best for them, and as a parent, we know it can be difficult to let them go off on their own. And our children may protest as well. Please know that they need opportunities to communicate with other children who are like them to avoid the terrible sense of isolation, that as parents, we may not fully understand. The pressure that inherently comes with communicating is not present at the camp because the children are just like them. No labels and no expectations allow the kids to just be themselves in a relaxed atmosphere.
If you are concerned as a parent, you may want to consider a family camp for the first time to give everyone more confidence in what camp has to offer. The deaf counselors become role models, and the children report that they have enjoyed a most rewarding experience.
The National Cued Speech Association offers camp scholarships in some cases for financial aid. And camps just aren’t for summer. You will also find some spring and fall camps as well, and they may be more convenient based on the age of your child. If you have questions or concerns about a camp, please consult your hearing care specialist for additional information.

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