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Millcreek Journal

Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind provide summer fun for students

Nov 07, 2023 01:08PM ● By Lizzie Walje

This past summer several students participated in a three-week STEM summer camp program. (Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind)

With summer over, Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (USDB) is celebrating the end of yet another successful summer camp season. For generations, summer camp has been an essential rite of passage for children and teenagers in the United States. Despite this longstanding tradition, the same camp opportunities have not always been available for children who are blind, have low vision, deafblind, or deaf or hard of hearing. 

In response to this issue, USDB has worked hard to create summer camp opportunities for students with visual and/or hearing impairments and disabilities who are chronically overlooked and underrepresented. Their venture has been extremely successful, with this year culminating in over 40 different camp opportunities for students to pick from. No longer are these students excluded from the traditional camp experience. 

Camp Abilities is one of the most notable camp destinations, hailed as “a dozen summer camp opportunities in one, [Camp Abilities] is tailor-made for students who are blind or low vision,” according to Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. 

The camp was created as an extension of the Utah School for the Blind’s (USB) expanded core curriculum. Held at Rockin’ R Ranch in Antimony, Utah, students attended camp with a parent or guardian and one other family member of their choice. The camp focused on three areas of the expanded core curriculum: recreation and leisure, independent living skills, and orientation and mobility. Breakout sessions further focused exclusively on one of the aforementioned areas. Camp Abilities was also helpful for parents, who received a binder of materials, and were encouraged to journal their experiences and thoughts on how to apply the skills learned at camp to the home environment. 

Additionally, USB’s Robin Clark facilitated a meeting with all parents in attendance and the four young adult camp staff members who also have vision loss. In addition to the camp curriculum, campers were treated to classic activities like campfires, songs, family skits, water activities and more. The camp’s dual focus on entertainment and life skills proved extremely valuable for students.

USDB has always emphasized the importance of connecting its students with opportunities to hone their skills, develop their interests, and learn through hands-on experience. This summer provided opportunities for students to engage in learning activities, including a three-week STEM summer camp, a judo workshop, and an American Sign Language book reading event in American Fork. 

Another notable summer venture took place in the San Francisco Bay, where 11 students from the Utah Schools for the Deaf enjoyed a summer camp experience aboard a tall ship. According to the Utah Schools for the Deaf, “The crew taught them all about sailing and put them to work as members of the crew.” The ship staff implemented American Sign Language into all of the onboard activities.  λ