It’s hard to believe that Summer 2019 is behind us and our campers are all back at school. But, as the saying goes: Time flies when you’re having fun, and Fun was definitely a highlight of our summer camp. And, of course, campers learned a lot too!
We sat down with our camp director, speech-language pathologist Katie Sacasa, to talk about why this summer was so special.
Three years ago we moved into a new space, and along with that move came a revamping of our summer intensive program (camp). This summer was our best yet, says Katie, due to a few highlights including the addition of a music program with our new music specialist, a push to use recycled materials for all crafts, the tireless team effort employed by our staff, and the great progress our campers made.
Here’s what Katie had to say:
The addition of daily interactive music exceeded our expectations, and was a favorite time of day for camper and staff alike. During music, campers of all ages came together, which was a chance for them to practice social communication skills in a larger group setting. Singing, dancing, and playing instruments also provided unique opportunities for campers to use strategies for listening, following directions, and regulating their emotions and behavior. Plus, it was simply pure joy! And because interactive music was always at the end of the day, it supported a successful, happy transition out of camp.
One thing we’re proud of is how well our staff prepared every camp detail ahead of time. We planned out the themes, collected the materials, and made sure everyone knew their individual roles well ahead of the start of camp. Not having to think about any of those details created an environment in which therapists were 100% percent available to campers, and able to adapt to their needs in any given moment. Preparing for camp was a full team effort, which resulted in therapists being able to fully focus on the children.
We’re also proud of the fact that virtually all of the craft materials we used were recycled items collected by our staff! “ICT Loves Mother Earth” was an opportunity to be mindful of our impact on the environment and encourage campers to do the same.
One thing that’s unique about our camps is that we go beyond simply teaching skills and helping children practice them. We focus on giving children strategies, and helping them use those strategies independently. In order to do that, we really balance the time we’re “teaching” with the time we’re observing and offering guidance as needed. Our goal is always to be the bridge between learning skills and using them in everyday life.
Over the summer we saw our campers get better and better at using strategies for successful social interaction with peers and adults, listening, managing transitions, flexibility, initiating, using and understanding verbal and nonverbal language, and awareness and regulation of emotions and behavior. Our absolute favorite, though, was witnessing campers form friendships. For some of them, these were there very first friends!
Parent surveys showed that parents also noticed improvement at home, which is exactly what we want to hear: That campers learned how to carry new skills from therapy into daily life.
We feel deeply grateful for our families for allowing us the opportunity to get to know and work with their children, and for our staff for their enthusiasm, dedication, and knowledge. And we are especially thankful for our CAMPERS, who truly made our summer. We wish everyone a happy, healthy, fun-filled year of learning!