UNT summer camp boosts communication skills for kids with speech, language and hearing disorders

Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 20:48

What: University of North Texas Camp Communicate is a language-rich, summer day camp sponsored by the UNT Speech and Hearing Center for children ages 5-12 with speech, language and hearing disorders. Registration deadline is June 4.

When: 9 to 11:30 a.m. June 9-13 (Monday – Friday). Drop off begins at 8:30 a.m.

Where: Location Monday-Thursday:
The Meritt Bois D'Arc Ranch
2946 Ganzer Road West
Denton, TX 76207

Location Friday:
Elm Fork Education Center
1704 W. Mulberry St., UNT campus
Denton, TX 76201

Cost: $60 per child includes all activities, snacks, and a camp T-shirt

Contact: 940-565-2262
Camp Communicate 2014

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Children across America look forward to summer camp when the school year ends, and for kids at Camp Communicate in Denton this June, each day will be a different adventure. Sponsored by the University of North Texas Speech and Hearing Center, the weeklong day camp is designed to maximize fun under the sun while building confidence and communication skills for kids with speech, language and hearing disorders.

Located on the grounds of the Meritt Bois D'Arc Ranch, the camp offers a roster of themed activities, from outdoor safaris to circus carnivals. Whether they are digging for dinosaurs, making crafts or exploring nature, kids do what kids do best: Get curious. Have fun. Make friends.

"The children have a great time," said Stacy Nunnelee, camp coordinator and speech-language pathologist. "Fishing is one of the activities that really engages the kids. They love to hook the worms and reel in the fish. It is rewarding to know that we can provide positive experiences for kids with special needs who otherwise might not be able to attend summer camp."

Each child's communication needs are unique. Some campers wear cochlear implants. Others stutter, exhibit various language delays or communicate using symbol-supported apps such as Proloquo2Go for iPads. The app's one-touch menu of pictures, sentences and words helps kids who cannot otherwise vocalize intent to express their feelings and needs to others, such as what they want to eat, if they have finished a task, and whether or not they are ready to join an activity, said Nunnelee.

Whatever the need, the camp's goal is to individualize activities and enhance communication and learning. As one of the clinical supervisors and a speech-language pathologist, Angela Kennedy trains UNT speech-language pathology and audiology camp counselors to address a spectrum of challenges to ensure that everyone can fully participate.

"I enjoy watching the graduate students work with the kids," she said. "We pair one graduate student with one to two children, so our counselors really get to know their campers and see firsthand how approaches learned in the classroom make a difference in the kids' lives. Everyone blossoms from it."

When the weather gets warmer, 13-year-old Ryan Garcia and his brother Noah, age 9, start counting the days until June when Camp Communicate begins, said their mother. Ryan is diagnosed with autism and a language disorder, and Noah, who is not speech or hearing impaired, comes for fun and serves as a peer model in the program. They have been coming to camp since 2008 and 2010, respectively.

"What a wonderful experience it is for both my sons to have the opportunity to go to Camp Communicate," said Veronica Garcia, the boys' mother. "Ryan has gained many social skills interacting with people while enjoying games, fishing and different activities. Noah has learned to be more patient as a mentor for other children. Camp Communicate has been a great place for them to learn life lessons."

Julie West, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108