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All youth with a hearing loss have free access to communication without the use of interpreters! Our camp will be held each year for one week at the Wilderness Resort, Route 3, Spotsylvania, Virginia. Here, we swim, hike, fish, and have a variety of activities throughout the day related to our theme for the week. Often we have trips and events, such as going to Washington, DC, rafting down the Rappahannock River, or spending the day at King's Dominion. Our campers vary in ages from three to eighteen. Most of our counselors are the campers that are in high school or ASL students from the local high schools.
Summer camp plays a significant role in the life of a child. It helps promote self-esteem, encourages them to make new friends, and provides opportunities in the ways of leadership and independence. However, for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, the camp experience is limiting in the aspect that the child will still need to rely on an interpreter, which inhibits a child's opportunity to experience life as only a child can.
Our camp allows children to explore new interests and gives them the opportunity to work out conflicts between their friends without constant adult interference. Our counselors will always be there to brainstorm ideas for coping mechanisms and conflict resolutions, but will allow the children time to create a healthy scenario, thus enabling campers to decide how to resolve future conflicts while encouraging native language use. Such actions instill a greater self-confidence and a sense of freedom, therefore leading to greater independence.
Hearing parents who have deaf children struggle with finding friends who have the same mode of communication. "Signs of Fun" camp resolves this important issue. Our campers finally have a place where they belong, where they can be themselves and realize their potential. Our vision for the campers is to see them participate with abandon, to see them engage in new activities without hesitation, and to see them create ideas in which they would like to see the group involved.