Finding a summer camp for your child with hearing loss can be a tricky endeavor. While summer programs can be a time when your child expands their horizons in a new environment, it can also be tricky when you have to teach counselors about communication needs, and equipment troubleshooting.
Enter Dana Selznick. I recently had the opportunity to connect with this Hearing Education Service (HES) provider, who works on the Upper West Side in New York City. Dana, along with her two partners Arielle Ditkowich and Brittany Prell (fellow HES providers) is opening a summer program designed specifically for Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant users.
I caught up with the three co-founders of Camped Up and we had the chance to discuss how they met, goals of the program, and summer camp memories!
It sounds like you three have a bunch great energy going on between you. How did you meet?
Dana and Arielle became instant friends during orientation on the first day of grad school. The next year Brittany started the same program and all the professors kept telling each of us how similar we were to each other. When the three of us finally met it was clear our professors knew us well, we have been friends ever since. After graduation we all started careers as New York City HES providers and have succeeded with each others help and guidance.
Why a summer camp? Where did idea for Camped Up come from?
Arielle is very active in summer camps and was thinking about a way to bring her love of camp to students in the New York area. She approached Dana and Brittany with the idea of starting a camp in NYC for Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant users and they jumped on the idea! She also thought of Neil, a good friend and former camp director at her lifelong sleepaway camp who now runs multiple camps throughout the US. Upon calling him for advice, he loved the idea so much he immediately said he wanted to be a part of it and offered years of camp and administrative expertise.
One dinner later, Camped Up was formed. We ran the idea by a few parents and they loved it.
What can you tell me about Camped Up? What will it offer for children with hearing loss that other camps don’t?
We have created a camp that every child in New York would fall in love with. The reason that it is a specialized camp for hearing loss and spoken language is because we make the environment conducive for listening.
Our camp avoids any acoustic challenges by providing appropriate modifications to the environment. We have the tools, technology and training necessary to provide the best possible experience for all of our campers. This camp has something for everybody.
Whether you are into sports, arts and crafts or science, Camped Up is an all around fun day camp!
What do you hope Camped Up will accomplish? What experiences do you want children to have?
We thought that it would be a great idea to provide children with a summer camp experience in which they could come together and play with other Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant users. We hope that our campers will gain a sense of pride and comfort with their hearing loss, and make new friendships within this community.
We want our campers to have an all around amazing summer camp experience. We want them excited to come to camp in the morning and not wanting to leave at the end of the day. At the end of camp we hope they will go home with new friends, the same love for camp that we had as campers, and memories from the exciting activities that they will be talking about for months to come.
Can you tell me a bit about the experiences you all bring to the camp?
All three of us have a dual masters degree from Columbia University- Teachers College in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education. There we learned how to use all forms of assistive technology, and have been implementing these skills throughout our careers as New York City HES providers. Together we have years of camp experience and involvement in a wide variety of programs geared towards children. And most importantly we all share a love of children.
Did any of you go to camp as a child? What memories do you have?
You could say that, collectively we have over 45 years of camp experience! All of us have attended day camps, sleep away camps and have gone from counselors, to group leaders throughout the years.
Dana’s favorite memories from camp are the camp songs and cheers she learned and sang throughout the summers.
Brittany loved the circle games and team building activities she played with her camp friends.
Arielle’s favorite memory was making a picture frame in Arts and Crafts that still sits on her desk with pictures from camp.
Is there anything else you want to share about Camped Up?
We just want everyone to know that CampedUp’s main goal is to provide an awesome summer for your child!
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me, and I wish you all a great summer of creating camp memories for a new generation of children. For more information about Camped Up, please visit their website at www.campedup.com