[blindkid] Blind Camps

Heather craney07 at rochester.rr.com
Wed Jun 2 15:20:56 UTC 2010


Part of the problem that I had and that I know other blind people had with 
the camps was that they didn't just provide materials in Braille, they tried 
to teach Braille.  They didn't just encourage good personal hygene and table 
manners, they insisted in breaking down the most simple proccesses into 
convoluted sets of steps.  Camp, for sighted kids is an escape from 
accademia, a well deserved vacation, from a hard school year's work.  I was 
so encredibly pissed off as a child that while my peers were horse back 
riding and roasting marshmallows and toilet papering each other's cabins, 
that I was being made to practice cane techniques that I already knew, to 
read lame donated Braille books, grades below my comprehention level and at 
least a grade or two below my reading level, and being coached on how to cut 
my meat.  I understand that many kids need these skills, but it is the 
parents job to teach daily living skills, and the TVI and O and M instructor 
in the school district's job to teach Braille and Cane skills, or the 
parent's job, if they are homeschooling their children, as I will be doing. 
Teaching a blind kid to make the bed or do dishes or tie shoes, should not 
be something needing to be taught at a special camp.  I can totally 
understand a sighted parent being at a loss of how to teach their blind 
teenager how to safely mow the lawn or how to safely cook a chicken on a 
rotissory over a fire pit, or how to use a saw and power sander to make book 
shelves.  Those are a bit above and beyond, but if a blind child goes to a 
summer camp actually needing to learn how to tie their shoes, or make a bed, 
or dress themselves or cut their meat, then there is a failure on the part 
of the parents.  I know a lot of you on this list, and you sound like 
realistic, compitant, intelligent individuals, and wonderful parents, and I 
am sure your kids are not in need of simple daily living skills training at 
what should be a fun vacation experience.  I recognize that there are some 
kids out there, sighted ones too, from at risk families and in high need 
school districts who really do need those services, but those should be 
addressed in workshops or training centers.  Don't try to jip kids out of a 
real camp, don't try to doop them, because they will realize what you're up 
to, and they won't like it one bit.  My mom never would have sent me to 
those camps, had she known that there was very little camp involved. 
Horseback riding does not count if someone is leading the horse.  Canooing 
does not count if two canoos are attached with a stiff board in the middle 
so that they can't tip, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs doesn't count if 
someone is doing it for you, well, if you are over seven or so.  Every camp 
I ever went to, only had out-of-date technology, that all of us already knew 
how to use.  The counsilors and blindness professionals, catered to the 
lowest possible functioning campers, instead of addressing each child's 
individual needs.  We had to run to the bases in beep baseball with a 
sighted counsilor, even though they beeped, we had to hit it off a T, and 
even when we asked, we were not allowed to try and bat it out of the air. 
Those of us who could see a little were not allowed to run, while looking at 
the lines on the track, we had to hold someone's hand, even when we asked, 
we were not allowed to even attempt the hurdles.  We were not allowed to 
serve the goal ball with a throw, as it should be done, but had to roll it, 
setting it on the ground and pushing with our hands, and they refused to 
keep score, saying that "everyone is equal, it's just about fun, no one wins 
or loses."  That is pure unadulterated b--- sh--.  Everyone has different 
strengths and weaknesses, but failing to give credit where it is due and 
recognize accomplishments leads to no sense of self, no self esteme or false 
self esteme.  Everyone had to ride on a tandum, even those who had enough 
site and wanted to try a single bike, with supervision of course.  Having 
said all of that.  I did attend one camp for blind children that was not a 
waste of time.  We did high ropes course, repelling, rock climbing, the real 
kind, outdoors, over forty or fifty feet in the air, camping, the real way, 
in tents, hiking, on a barely there path, etc.  The reason it was alright? 
There was no adgenda to teach Braille or cane travel or JFW, or anything 
else.  It taught more important things in the broad skeem of things, 
leadership, how to lead and how to follow and when to know which is called 
for, how to communicate, how to cooperate, how to compermise and when to 
push yourself and others harder.  The reason it was a good camp was that it 
was not designed just for blind kids, or even just for disabled kids.  It 
was designed for "normal" kids, and they just happened to have had a session 
just for blind kids, because the logistics were easier.  We did everything, 
and I do mean everything the sighted kids did.  We were expected to have 
acceptable table manners, to pour our own drinks, pack our own day packs, 
but no one offered help unless we needed it, we were not micro managed, and 
they didn't waste our time describing every step to every process in great 
detail, accept for the safety protacall for the activities done onbellay,. 
I am sure that there are some camps like that out there somewhere, but they 
are not the norm.  If your kid needs extra Braille, or cane or whatever, get 
them to a workshop, tell them that that is what it is, don't try to decieve 
them.  Explain that you are very sorry that it isn't as fun as traditional 
summer camp, but that the skills are neccessary for their lives in the long 
term.  That gives them more respect, in explaining it to them and being 
honest.  Then for the rest of their summer, send them to a camp that follows 
one of their interests, that is for everyone, blind, sighted, whatever. 
Space camp, or bible camp, or soccer camp, or dance camp, or music camp, or 
zoo camp is much more meaningful and it tells your child that you see them 
as your daughter who loves horses, your son who is really great at soccer, 
your daughter who loves nature, your son who loves extreme sports, not your 
son who is blind, or your daughter who can't see.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jessica" <jess28 at samobile.net>
To: <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 6:59 AM
Subject: Re: [blindkid] Blind Camps


> Sue and All,
> You've also got to remember the Blind Camps do a couple of things 
> differently then a regular summer camp for the sighted children would. 
> The Blind camps are generally set up to where the blind and visually 
> impaired students get intense training in the blindness specific skills 
> such as Braille, Adaptive Daily Living Skills, Computers, Adaptive 
> Physical Education, and Orientation and Mobility. Also, we did different 
> activities every evening.
> I had the pleasure of attending a Blind Camp for the Summers of 1993-1997 
> or 1994 to 1997. Then going back and working for the Summer Camp in 2001. 
> It was the Summer Camp run by the Outreach Director at the School for the 
> Blind at the time.
> Jessica
>
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