National Down Syndrome Awareness Month – How Camp for kids with Down syndrome helps our campers to build life skills.
October is national Down syndrome awareness month. At Camp Lee Mar we have many great campers who happen to have Down syndrome. Our program is designed to help every camper reach their full potential by acknowledging their strongest skill set areas and working on areas of need. Our campers who have Down syndrome attend a variety of different educational placements but come together at camp to work on skills that will help them navigate their upcoming school year while being as independent as possible.
One of our past campers, Madison, wrote a beautiful poem about what Camp Lee Mar means to her.
CAMP LEE MAR
I love camp because we do fun things,
We do things like social dance and make lasting friendships,
This is a good way to make friends and have fun,
It also helps people with confidence and bravery,
Being with people is an important factor in life,
No matter what we do, we always have people by our side,
I love these things because that is why I am special inside,
We all feel special in some way like in our hearts,
Our souls and our minds each and every day.
Written by Madison Essig (Summer 2014)
Camp for kids with Down syndrome
As with all of our campers, our campers with Down syndrome have their own set of skills, abilities and talents. This means our camp for kids with Down syndrome focuses on individualized instruction. We assess the skills the camper already has and build on those skills. Some of the areas of need that we work on during the summer include:
- Social and Emotional Maturity – We encourage our campers to practice self-advocacy at camp and age appropriate social skills. Our staff have high expectations for our campers as we want our campers to be as independent as possible. We provide an understanding supportive environment while helping our campers learn appropriate personal boundaries and community safety.
- Speech and/or articulation difficulties – Our speech program has its own building filled with books, games, iPads, and other helpful tools. Our ASHA-certified speech pathologist and staff of speech pathology students develop an individual plan for each camper. The program covers a variety of topics while focusing on functional communication including pragmatic language, expressive/receptive language, and articulation.
- Daily Living Skills – Many of our campers with Down syndrome have low muscle tone causing delays with fine motor skills. Our staff work on daily living skills with our campers by building on existing skills, breaking down new tasks into small steps, and allowing our campers extra time to process each step which minimizes frustration. As many of our children are visual learners, staff use picture/word schedules to help our campers sequence the needed steps, and by working side-by-side with our campers, modeling new skills
During the summer we focus on building the social and emotional skills our campers need to be successful during the school year. Many of our campers are in traditional inclusive school programs during the year, as a result of the skills they gain in our camp for special needs children, which truly is a unique program.
Written by Lynsey Trohoske
My name is Lynsey Trohoske, I am the assistant director at Camp Lee Mar. I have three amazing children, my middle child happens to be on the autism spectrum and is a camper at Lee Mar. I joined camp as a counselor in 1998 and loved the campers and their families so much that Camp Lee Mar became my second home!