Blog by Voon Pang
Sept. 18, 2012

To all those who read my last blog entry, I’m sorry for not posting sooner. After my piece on being open about stuttering, I was fortunate to fly out to Muskegon, Michigan (on a 20 hour flight!) to attend Camp Shout Out. For me it was the perfect opportunity to see everyone be open about their stuttering in a safe and supportive environment. The courage each camper showed in being proactively open and meeting others who stuttered was inspiring!

This year there were 36 campers aged between 8-18 with a new Leaders-In-Training program for the older teenagers.  Out of this year’s 36, about half had attended last year proving that Camp Shout Out is truly a life changing event. Staff members included SLPs, grad students and volunteers with faculty members Kristin Chmela, June Campbell and Dr Kevin Eldridge leading the way in ensuring that everything went smoothly.

Day one was filled with a mixture of nerves, excitement and anxiety, though it seemed like it was harder for the parents than the kids to say goodbye. Days two to five were filled with recreational activities such as swimming, fishing and rock climbing as well as speech modification practice in small teams. Brekkie, lunch and dinner was a communal affair with campers and staff hanging out and getting to know each other. At night, campers slept in shared cabins with a camp counsellor supervising to make sure that everyone went to bed on time.

Highlights from this year included watching campers grow in confidence as the week progressed (a camper directed wrote and directed a skit in front of the whole group), improvements in fluency and communication skills, increased verbal risk-taking (such as telling a joke in front of 50 people) and reduced isolation. Friendships were made, laughter was shared and tears were shed at the end when it was time to say goodbye.

For more information and photos of Camp Shout Out head to SLP’s, if you decide to enroll you get 5.4 hours of ASHA CEUs under your belt! Parents, your child will come back completely different with more confidence in their communication. Plus, they might even teach you a thing or two about being attentive, confident, assertive, effective and proactive communicators!

Finally, a couple of big shout outs...To Julie Raynor – the driving force behind Camp Shout Out. It is because of you children and teens who stutter get to meet others who truly get what it’s like to be them. To the kids I got to work with (you know who you are), keep on being the best communicators you can be and don’t forget to keep talking no matter what! To my wonderful SLP grad student (and partner in crime) Olivia Hazelden, good luck for your final semester.

I’ll always cherish the fond memories of Camp Shout 2012 and will send positive vibes all the way for New Zealand for bigger and better camps each August! 

Until next time, take care everyone :)