Many adults go to the Talking With Technology Camp to support the growth and experience of campers. We hope to accommodate everyone who comes to the Camp. To help you get ready for the Camp, it is helpful to know more about the culture, roles and expectations.
The Camp, while quite informal, can be very intense. It is set up differently from other camp programs. Adults will need to be adaptable, which means they should be ready for daily schedule changes and figuring out where to go and when to meet. There aren’t staff members on hand to help you with errands, cleaning tasks, etc. While the Camp staff are here to help, they may not be able to answer your questions or meet your needs right away. Their priority is taking care of campers and siblings.
Roles of Easterseals Colorado camp counselors and staff
The Camp model was created in 1986 through collaboration between Children's Hospital Colorado and Easterseals Colorado. They are dedicated to working together to create a good learning experience that children and adults can take home.
The Easterseals Colorado Camp staff is responsible for the care of all the campers and siblings and activities. The program and activities of the Camp are a part of the typical daily activities of their camps. The Camp is only one week out of a whole summer of weekly programs that the Easterseals Colorado staff supports. By the time the Camp starts, counselors have had experience working with children with major needs and are skilled at running camp activities.
Many trainers work with the campers before coming to this program. Trainers are assigned to campers to help them develop and use their AAC systems. This means that trainers will be learning as they go. They will be trying to build the most appropriate vocabulary and system organization. They’ll also work with the camper in all camp activities to use their systems.
Trainers should team up with the counselors to help boost the benefits for the camper. Communication between trainers and counselors is crucial. Trainers must be aware that their approach may not be the only, or best, approach, even though they may know more about a specialty area (speech-language pathology, special education, behavior therapists, etc.) and the child they are supporting.
Part of the Camp experience parallels the experience that any child would typically have at a camp. All kids get homesick. All kids will experience things that aren’t just like home. All kids learn what it's like when things aren’t done the same way. This is all part of the Camp experience for kids and trainers. Trainers are not stand-in parents. Knowledge that trainers have about the kids and their skills is very useful to camp staff if shared in a cooperative way. Trainers are not in charge of the personal care of the campers.
Personal care attendants
Sometimes, due to severe medical needs, Rocky Mountain Village asks that the child have a personal care attendant (PCA) with them. Parents cannot choose to send a PCA because they feel their child needs one. The director at Rocky Mountain Village will work closely with the Easterseals nurse and the Camp team lead to find out which kids must bring their own PCA. These individuals often sleep in the same cabin as the campers and look after their personal and medical needs. PCAs are there to support the camper, not the counselors or trainers. They are welcome to take part in any training session offered to the trainers, though most of their time is spent with the camper.
The PCA's and counselor's roles may overlap. It is a good idea for PCAs and counselors to work together to define roles at the start of the Camp session to prevent misunderstandings later. It may be hard for the PCA to care for the camper in the same way they care for them at home. This is ok because the Camp experience is not supposed to be the same.
Counselors want to build positive relationships with all their campers. If they don’t get to work with the campers as they normally would, this may be more difficult. We ask that PCAs try to give space to the counselors so they can work with and support the campers where appropriate.
Cluster leaders officially supervise the Camp activities. Most often, cluster leaders are speech-language pathologists from Children's Colorado who specialize in augmentative and alternative communication (ACC). Their main role is to help groups of five to six campers and trainers use AAC systems. They may help trainers learn more about programming, problem solving and using AAC devices. They may also help groups get organized for the daily Camp activities. They may help trainers solve any problems they're having in understanding the purpose and organization of the Camp program.
Each year, one to two mentors or adults who use a speech-generating device are invited to come to camp. Mentors support our campers as well as trainers, counselors and staff. They give presentations on their AAC journey, take part in the Camp activities and inspire and encourage campers.
Qualifications for being a mentor are:
- Independent AAC communicator
- Ability to work in a dynamic camp environment
- Ability to motivate and inspire others with positive words and actions
If you are interested or know someone who is interested in being a mentor, please email AACcamps@childrenscolorado.org to ask for an application.
There are often consultants at the Camp. They are AAC company representatives or people with technical expertise.
- Teach about systems
- Share information about many ways to program and use the systems
- Help solve problems when systems crash or need to be fixed
The consultants are also interested in learning more about the ways people use AAC devices. They learn from watching us work and are open to suggestions for improving or changing systems. They are valuable people to have at the Camp and often lifesavers for the times when device issues arise.
If you need more information or have questions about Talking With Technology Camp, please contact:
Children’s Hospital Colorado
Attention: AAC Camps (Talking With Technology)
860 N Potomac Circle, Box 385
Aurora, CO 80011
Fax: Attention: AAC Camps 720-478-7095