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Kiwanis Camp Unfurls New Pilot Program posted on 01/01/2014
Through a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation, the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp will be able to test a new family camp model with an eye on adding it permanently to its program

The $25,000 grant provides the funding to create a smooth transition from home life to camp life for younger camp members and their parents.

“For some of our campers that have disabilities with a strong cognitive component, making transitions is really difficult,” executive director Kaleen Deatherage said. “Every time something changes from their pattern, it’s stressful. So the more that we can do to help them get comfortable with a different routine, it’s going to help them be comfortable with staying at camp for a whole week.”

This is the goal of the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp’s Family Camp pilot, a four day-long camp experience geared toward prospective campers around the ages of eight and nine. During the pilot, campers and their families can experience the camp together, helping the young camper become more comfortable with the program.

“We know that with our youngest campers, who have never been away from home before, coming up here for a week and leaving their mom and dad probably for the first time in their whole lives is really stressful,” Deatherage said. “So our concept is that, say, starting when you were eight, you came up to family camp for a week with your mom and dad, then by the time you turned ten, and you are eligible to come to camp by yourself, you’re ready.”

The pilot is a realization of many years of conversations with Kiwanis Camp families who have suggested that this type of family camp would be useful for transitioning their children into being successful when they go independently.

“We’ve gotten a lot of requests from families being interested in something like this Family Camp, so this is kind of a response to that. I think that the pilot could really be filling a need that is in the community,” communications director Terri Hammond said.

Now that the grant is secured Deatherage is prepared to begin planning for the pilot. Tentative numbers have been decided as to the size of the pilot; the camp anticipates inviting around 15 families for little to no cost, in exchange for participation in surveys and interviews before and after the pilot to offer feedback.

Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp families and program directors alike are pleased about the camp’s new step in adding what they hope will become a permanent program.

“The enthusiasm behind it is pretty high. Some parents are really excited. They have been asking about this for a long time and any time you can get an entire family up together in a camp setting, the concept is really well received,” Hammond said.

Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp is an eight week-long summer camp that serves children and adults with disabilities ranging from the ages of 10 and up.

“The camp’s mission is to empower children and adults with disabilities. Our goal has been and always will be to give those individuals a camp experience, the primary difference being that we have enough staff and equipment support to make those opportunities safe and healthy for people who may have physical or cognitive disabilities,” Deatherage said.

Campers participate in different activities such as horseback riding, arts and crafts, and white water rafting. The camp is uniquely designed to help campers build confidence and learn to be independent.

If you are interested in participating in the pilot or learning more about the Family Camp Program, call (503)452-7416 or visit www.mhkc.org.

by Maddie Smith/MT

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