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Summer Camp With a Difference

When you think about kids in camp, most people think of gliding across a shimmering lake in a canoe or singing songs while roasting marshmallows and telling stories around a camp fire. Most people would never imagine that the Hyatt Regency New Orleans could be the jumping off point for adventures in learning. But the Hyatt Regency is exactly where the action is this summer for blind children, their siblings, and the sighted children of blind parents. >From June 29 through July 5, the adventures of NFB Camp will be beckoning.

Most blind children attend their neighbourhood schools. Many do not know other blind kids and it is easy to feel alone. It is difficult to get a clear perspective on what blindness means when you are the only blind person you know--at least the only blind child you know. What a treat to be in a place where blindness is normal and expectations are high. Sighted children of blind parents can feel alone sometimes, too.

Their classmates often wonder what it is like to have a blind parent.It can be frustrating to constantly have to answer questions about how Mummy cooks or how Daddy can walk around by himself. It is also hard to imagine that blind parents were ever blind children. Getting to know blind kids their own age can help the sighted children of blind parents have a better perspective on blindness.

NFB Camp is designed to help kids interact with one another and with blind adults. Blind college students are paired with blind kids. A six year old who is just learning to use a white cane can gain immensely from being supervised by a cane-using college student. Blind adults are also available to talk to the parents of blind children, to answer questions, and to act as role models.

The program is directed by a blind woman with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She earns her living running a Montessori school and applies sound learning principles to help make NFB Camp exciting and enriching for children.

All of the details have not been finalized, but at this writing there are plans for a trip to a children's science museum. Older children will have the opportunity to take a baby sitting class and to learn first aid and CPR. Blind children often have difficulty being given a fair opportunity to succeed in baby sitting classes because others often believe blind people cannot be baby sitters. Many other activities are also being planned.

You probably won't see any camp fires at NFB Camp and the canoes will have to wait for another time, but the sense of fun and fellowship and the growth in self-confidence ensure that families will want to make NFB Camp part of their lives each year. Families interested in attending NFB Camp should contact the national office at 1-800-561-4774.