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Talking With Technology (TWT) Camp is a weeklong program developed by Children's Hospital Colorado for young people ages 6 to 21 who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems.
Children's Colorado contracts with the Colorado Easter Seal Society for this week to be held each summer at its camp facility, Rocky Mountain Village, in Empire, Colorado.
A priority for acceptance to the TWT Camp is given to children who come with an adult who is working with the child and his/her system (e.g., speech therapist, teacher, aide, etc.), but is not a family member. Acceptance to camp is also based upon the completion of ALL the application paperwork by the deadlines. Applications won’t be considered until all the paperwork is completed. Due to the high number of kids interested in attending camp, typically the maximum number of years a child can attend camp is 3 years. Completion of the application process in a timely manner, and having an adult attend camp as a trainer will facilitate acceptance. However, all applications will be reviewed for the appropriateness of the camp program.
Both the child and the adult are involved in a week of training and implementation of the AAC system. Each year the Talking with Technology Camp changes and improves. Its goals are to provide intensive intervention, within the context of a motivating and meaningful environment, for children using augmentative communication devices, and to enhance the development of communication partners and those facilitating AAC use.
A unique aspect of TWT Camp is that the camper - who is the augmentative communication system user - usually attends with a professional trainer who knows the child. Brothers and sisters are also welcome to take part in the program. That's what makes this one week such an intensive learning experience for everyone. Because this camp gives children the opportunity to develop increased independence, parents do not attend. Children's personal care needs are managed by trained camp staff.
Young people using an augmentative communication system get individual and group instruction. They learn new vocabulary, new strategies for implementing that vocabulary and new ideas about what they can say. Lifelong friendships grow with their cabin mates and camp counselors. Activities include:
Brothers and sisters of children who use augmentative communication systems attend the camp to learn how to better understand and interact with their siblings. However, acceptance of siblings is limited due to staffing. Siblings are accepted on a first come, first serve basis based on the date of submission of the completed application packet.
In addition, they get to participate in all the traditional camp activities, too. Many of these are designed just for their group, giving them an opportunity to meet other young people who have a brother or sister who uses an augmentative communication system. Some activities are designed to help siblings learn more about the use and operation of the systems. In this way, they become better communication partners for their brothers or sisters.
Professionals, such as speech language pathologists or teachers, attend the camp to share in the experience of how communication impacts the entire life environment of the children with whom they work, and learn ways to continue the growth and development beyond the camp experience. These trainers get intensive learning opportunities. They get a closer look at the communication systems and begin to implement ideas for better communication on a daily basis.
An overnight camp experience also allows these professionals to see the actions of the children on a 24-hour basis. Consequently, they appreciate complex communication needs of the children, whom they traditionally have seen for just short periods of time.
Training for the professionals begins as soon as they arrive at camp, and continues during the week, providing them with hands-on experience, and guidance from experts in the field. Graduate level college credit is also available.
Personal Care Attendants (PCA)
Although the personal care needs of the children are managed by the trained and experienced Easter Seal Camp Counselors, some children have medical needs that require their own personal care attendant. The primary function of the PCA is to work with the camper's counselor to provide the unique personal care needs necessary. The need for a PCA is determined by Rocky Mountain Village. Generally, PCAs are required for children who have a night nurse.
Camper Funding: For many years, the Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado (SRF) has generously supported Talking with Technology (TWT) campers and their families by offering scholarships for Colorado residents. An application for SRF scholarship assistance is required; amount of scholarship is determined based on family income. Families are expected to pay a portion of their child’s TWT fees.
Sibling, Trainers and Personal Care Attendant Funding:
Funding support for siblings, trainers and personal care attendants (PCAs) may be available. Upon acceptance of campers' applications, families will be notified if additional support is available to defray the costs of siblings, trainers and PCAs. Siblings, trainers and PCAs do not need to submit a financial application to be considered for funding assistance.
All thank you notes and correspondence to the Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado (SRF) can be sent in care of:
Children's Hospital Colorado
Attn: Scottish Rite Program Assistant
13123 E. 16th Avenue, B-030
Aurora, CO 80045
If you require more information or have questions about Talking With Technology Camp, please contact: Christy Schneller, Team Lead of Augmentative Communication Camps. She can be reached by phone at 720-777-3613 or by email.