Stories From Summer Camp

Apr 1, 2019

Carlos, Bentley, Felix, Alison, and Precious share their stories from summer camp!

Video description found here:

In vertical panels, five photographs show the faces of five different people, three men and two women. They are all smiling. Text – Stories from Summer Camp.
The first of the five people, the man in the far-left photograph, is now sitting on a yellow armchair with several computer screens on a desk behind him. A rainbow peace sign hangs on the wall. His name is Carlos. He wears a white t-shirt and blue suit jacket. He begins to communicate through sign language.
I went to Florida to spend some time with my mother. She enrolled me in a traditional summer camp in the area. She thought, because I was mainstreamed, that I would get along perfectly fine with hearing students. By the time my mum picked me up at the end of the day, I was physically very sick, to the point of vomiting. I broke down because I was so overwhelmed by feeling lost among all those hearing campers. I felt very alone and refused to go back. Many years later, I went to work at a deaf summer camp and was immediately blown away. I was incredibly moved seeing how effortlessly everyone communicated, 24/7. The staff and campers were all deaf. The kids interacted with ease. Wow. It was vastly different from my own experience where I was the only deaf person in a sea of hearing people.
A Caucasian man named Bentley sits on a lawn in front of a wooden panelled fence and small trees. He has a greying goatee and visible brow lines and wears a long-sleeved buttoned shirt. He communicates using sign language.
My mum showed me a brochure and suggested I go to this summer camp. I was adamant that I not go. In fact, I was really offended by the idea of going to a deaf camp. I had a very hearing mentality then. All of the other campers began trickling in, arriving at camp, and I was overwhelmed. They were all signing so fast, like lightning speed, and I was just like a turtle trying to keep up. After summer camp, when I was back home, I got to thinking. If I continued to acquire ASL, I would be able to have 100% understanding and access at a deaf school. I explained this to my mum and she needed no more convincing. She said, “let’s do it,” and began her search for a school for the deaf.
A young bald-headed man named Felix sits in a tiled room full of armchairs and couches. He wears a plain, navy blue t-shirt and wristwatch. He uses sign language to communicate.
When I was first told about a deaf/blind camp in Washington State, I was enthralled. Upon arriving at camp, I was shocked at the number of deaf/blind people there. Roughly 75 to 100 people. There were all kinds of activities and things to do. For example, there was dancing, bowling, art, and so much more. I remember, on the last day as I was leaving, I noticed a new growing sense of pride in who I was.
A woman with long curly hair and long colourful earrings sits on an armchair in a tiled room. Her name is Alison. She wears jeans, a shirt and a cardigan. She communicates through sign language.
While attending Aspen Camp I was among a diverse group of campers, from those who used ASL, to Signing Exact English. Campers from different academic experiences all in one place, working together. They relied on me for my leadership, for my ideas. That brought me to realise…
She shrugs and shakes her head.
What’s not to be proud of my deaf identity? Summer camp, along with my mainstream experience, truly made me who I am.
A young woman, named Precious, with long dark hair and glasses, communicates through sign language. She sits in a room full of desks and chairs.
This past summer, I spent an entire month at YLC, Youth Leadership Camp. Wow. It was a rich experience, interacting with other people, team building and problem solving. I learned it’s OK to make mistakes. You learn a lot through those mistakes. After camp, I saw a major shift in my personal growth and confidence.
Text – what’s your story? Four curved vertical blue lines sit on top of a green bowl shape – the
National Deaf Center logo. Text – National Deaf Center on postsecondary outcomes. This video was developed under a grant from the US Department of Education OSEP #HD326D160001. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

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© National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes
Video licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International

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