Summer is the time to try out new things, such as going to camp. Let me guess, your parents won’t let you leave the house because of your hearing devices? Not to worry, there are camps created specifically for deaf and hard of hearing kids. Type “deaf and hard of hearing camps” in your web browser and thousands of results pop up for all ages and interests. Gallaudet University has a good listing of camps by state, but check out the some of websites for camps suggestions. Here are some suggestions and some of the camps I have attended:
- http://www.bloomu.edu/camp_hero - Camp HERO (Here Everyone Really is One)
- https://sites.google.com/site/deafspacecamp/ - Space camp for future astronauts
- http://www.rit.edu/ntid/techgirlz/ - Techgirlz, a college camp and a technology camp for middle school girls
- http://www.ntid.rit.edu/camps/techboyz - Techboyz, a college camp and a technology camp for middle school boys (I actually did not go to this one, but it is the boys equivalent of techgirlz)
When looking at deaf and hard of hearing camps, keep in mind what your favorite mode of communication is and what mode of communication the camp primarily uses. Some use ASL and have sign language interpreters, some use ASL and voice, some use ASL and captioning services (that’s a nice one for me), and many other options. Contact the camps ahead of time to find out more details. Now that you know there are camps out there for you, it is time to broaden your search, with the permission of your parents of course. Just because someone has a hearing loss, does not mean he or she cannot participate in a regular camp environment. Plenty of camps will make accommodations for campers with a hearing loss, you just have to make them aware of the situation and educate them about your needs. Every regular camp I’ve gone to has been very receptive to my requests, including figuring out what to do with the hearing aids during a white water rafting trip (leave them on the bus!). Here are a few suggestions for whatever camp you attend:
- Bring a humidifier for your hearing aids. I cannot stress how important a dehumidifier can be, it will safe your life one day (figuratively of course). For humid environments or the occasional unexpected rainstorms, a dehumidifier will save your hearing aids. I don’t care if the camp is in the Sahara Desert where there is no water to be seen for miles, you must bring a dehumidifier for three reasons:
- Draws moisture out of hearing devices,
- Extends the lifetime of hearing aids
- Stores hearing aids when sleeping or showering.
- Also bring a supply of batteries to last for the entire duration of camp and any other tools that you use to clean or maintain hearing devices.
- If you are going to an educational camp, you may want to bring your microphone if you have one. An educational camp will be just like school; whatever works for school will work at the camp. If you have an IEP or a similar plan, send it to the camp to help determine what you need.
- When you do go to camp the best thing you can do is to familiarize yourself with what to expect. I recommend meeting the camp director, head counselor, or nurse before checking in, and make sure they know what you need. An audiogram is helpful to show the nurse or head counselor what you can hear, both with and without hearing devices. A picture tells a thousand words!
Get out there! Have fun! Have a great summer! Don’t forget to shower when you return!