Why send my child to an overnight camp?
At Talking with Technology Camp, your child will get a lot of practice using their speech-generating device (SGD), or augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system, in a fun, social setting. They will spend every day over the course of a week learning and growing.
How is learning possible in a camp setting?
At Camp, your child will get individualized help learning how to use their SGD. Some topics they will learn about are:
- How they can make their SGD work best for them
- New vocabulary
- How to interact with other children and adults
During their week at camp, children gain social skills by learning to communicate with others, which can help their self-esteem. Sometimes activities, such as talent shows, are used to help children use their device in a way that is fun for all campers.
What is the age range?
Our campers range from 6 to 21 years old. Some young children may not do well away from home for a long amount of time.
It is important that there are campers in the same age group for each child to fully benefit from this experience. This may influence acceptance of some children.
What kind of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system does the child have to use?
All children must have a speech-generating system. Even though your child may use other systems to communicate, the main purpose of this camp is to develop their speech output system.
Sometimes a child may be waiting to get funding for a system or have some other circumstance that keeps them from having their own system. In such cases, it will be necessary for the family to get the right system to send to camp with their child. If a system is not going to be available for camp, this program may not be the best one for the child.
It is also important that the child knows how to use the system before coming to camp.
Are there any "functioning level" requirements?
There are no requirements for functioning level but it is important that your child has the following skills so they can get the most out of camp:
- Be able to take part in both individual and group activities
- Control their behavior and not distract other campers from learning
- Be comfortable learning and interacting with others
What kind of disabilities do campers have?
Over the years, we have had campers with a wide variety of abilities take part in this program. If a child has medical problems that require significant medical care, a camp program may not be a good fit for them. There is a full-time nurse at camp, but the nurse is only responsible for some care like giving medicines and treating minor illnesses, such as colds and ear infections.
Children with major medical concerns are reviewed by our staff and the Easterseals Colorado Camp staff. The Easterseals Colorado Camp Director has the final say in these cases and will decide if your child needs a personal care attendant (PCA) to be able to come to camp. If a child must come with a PCA, the attendant may pay a reduced fee. The PCA’s main role is to look after the child's personal needs while letting the child be as independent as possible and build a positive relationship with their Talking With Technology (TWT) Camp counselor and trainer.
A trainer is an adult who attends camp to support the camper’s communication. They receive extensive training during their week at camp. A trainer cannot be a camper’s family member. A trainer can be a professional (such as speech-language pathologist, teacher, paraprofessional or other provider). They could also be a pre-service professional (such as an undergraduate/graduate student studying speech therapy, occupational therapy or education).
Do children have to come with an adult participant?
We ask that children come with adults that will be involved with them after the camp program. This can help your child continue to apply what they learned at camp at home. We find this is especially important for children who come from out of state. Many children need to travel with an adult.
We give priority to adults who are working with the child and their system (such as a speech therapist, teacher or aide) but are NOT a family member.
Every effort will be made to pair children who do not have an accompanying adult with an adult who wishes to come to camp but is not coming with a specific child. In some cases, this may be a graduate student in speech-language pathology. If there is no adult to pair with your child, your child will not be accepted to this program.
Can parents or guardians attend camp?
We do not allow parents or guardians to attend the Camp. This camp is a place where your child can participate in fun activities while also working on their communication skills with their peers.
We know that you may be most familiar with your child and their use of the AAC system, but we stand firm on this rule. We value your participation and will provide you with a brief overview of information covered during the week on the last day of camp when you pick up your child.
It is ideal to have a therapist, teacher, paraprofessional or other professional come with your child to camp. We know how hard it can be to find a teacher or therapist who will spend a week away from home and family, but this is a rare and excellent educational opportunity. Some families offer to pay for this adult to go to camp. Sometimes, school districts and other teaching support funds are used, and some schools even think of camp as part of the extended school year. We also hope to have grant funding to give scholarships to adult participants.
What are the qualifications and requirements of the trainer?
Adults are required to:
- Have worked with your child before
- Be familiar with your child
- Work with your child on their AAC system after camp
The trainer can be a beginner with AACs, though they should have some knowledge of your child's system. Others may be skilled at working with AAC. Trainers must be at camp one day before the campers and stay until their camper has checked out on the last day of camp.
There will be ongoing training for the trainers on the first day of camp and throughout the week. College credit is available trainers.
What are the requirements for siblings?
An important part of the TWT Camp program is having siblings at camp. Siblings ages 6 to 21 may attend camp. But there must be other siblings at camp in the same age category. This may determine acceptance of a sibling into the program.
Siblings ages 15 to 21 are encouraged to volunteer through Easterseals Colorado. For more information on this program, please visit their volunteer page.
At camp, siblings are not responsible for taking care of their brother or sister. While they may do some of the activities together, they also have a chance to learn from other siblings of children who use AACs and enjoy activities designed specifically for them (like an overnight campout).
In most cases, only one sibling per camper is accepted due to limited space. We will make exceptions if there is space available.
What are the accommodations like?
- For children: Children stay in cabins with single beds. You can ask for side rails for your child's bed. The cabin assignments are made based on gender, age and sometimes staff availability. Siblings are assigned to the same cabins based on gender and age. That means that some campers and siblings will not be in the same cabin. Each cabin has Easterseals Colorado staff assigned to it when a child is in the cabin.
- For adults: Adult participants are assigned to separate cabins that are dormitory style with bunk beds. PCAs are assigned to the child's cabin if this is necessary and their gender is the same as the child’s. If genders are not the same, the PCA will stay with the other adults.
- For all participants: There are shared bathrooms in each cabin with limited privacy. Only showers are available. There are beds and mattresses.
Everyone must bring their own:
- sleeping bag or bed linens
- personal items
Storage space is very limited.
We serve meals in the main lodge, and we can make special meals if they are requested in advance. Food is typically easy to eat and includes lots of soft food like noodles and soups. The camp chef can adapt the menu to most diets. All participants are encouraged to drink lots of water to help prevent altitude sickness.
How is transportation arranged?
You will need to provide transportation to camp for your child. Please do not make travel arrangements that cannot be canceled before you get confirmation that your child has been accepted to camp. If your child is accepted to the program, you will be given a check-in and check-out time. It is important that you make arrangements that will work with these times. Late check-in and early check-out times greatly impact this program's benefit for your child and others.
If you will be flying to Colorado, your flight schedule will need to be arranged with the check-in and check-out times. The camp is located just off I-70 (west), directly from the airport, about 1.5 hours driving time away from Denver. There is no shuttle bus service from the airport to camp.
In some cases, you make need to take a flight that arrives in Denver the night before check-in and that may hold you over in Denver until the day after camp. You will be responsible for these accommodations and other travel arrangements.
Is there any help with funding?
For many years, the Scottish Rite Foundation of Colorado (SRF) has generously supported TWT campers and their families by giving scholarships for Colorado residents. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, you will need to fill out an application. The amount of the scholarship is based on family income. Families are expected to pay a part of their child’s TWT fees.
- SRF scholarship funding does not pay for the camp application fee.
- Each Colorado camper must send a financial application to be considered for funding help.
- Insurance/Medicaid will not be billed for any TWT camp services.
- Families are free to ask outside agencies and organizations, including their local school district, to sponsor their camper.
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, we will inform families if extra financial support is available to help pay for the costs of siblings, trainers and PCAs. Siblings, trainers and PCAs don’t need to send in a financial application to be considered for funding help.
Where can I send a thank you note to the Scottish Rite?
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, B030
Aurora, CO 80045
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