Friday, June 8, 2012

What Camp Cheerio Means to us

2 weeks ago we went to a place called Camp Cheerio in Roaring Gap, NC.  It is in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC.  People come from all over to go here.  And you've seen the pictures.  But it's not just the view we go for.  Though it helps!  The NCCSA (NC Cued Speech Association) puts this on each year.  They offer cue classes for those who want to learn.  Yana will be taking those next year.  It is a place where families can go.  Not feel so alone.  For us, this is so, so important.

This is the one thing the kids look forward to every single year since we started going.  It means more to them than Christmas and I'm not exaggerating about that.  In fact, they get the calender out and start counting down the days in January!  Despite us not going until May.  It's nuts.  But they all love it that much.  There are friendships formed year after year.  For Nik, it means the world.  It is THE place he belongs.  Though only for 3 days, it feels much longer.  Memories are ingrained in their heads and they just love it.  Nik since he has been home from Camp Cheerio has been trying to communicate up a storm.  He is talking to us.  He signs and tries to talk at the same time.  He didn't use to do this.  But after Camp Cheerio, I think he felt he could.  He had this new sense of confidence to talk.  See, at Camp Cheerio, no one makes fun of him for how he's talking.  No one looks at him strange for signing. He sees he's not alone and in his element.  I think that is important to kids. 

The other kids feel they belong as well.  This was Irina's first year as a volunteer and she was beyond thrilled they wanted her to come back.  She was so, so worried that they'd think she'd do a bad job.  I said just be yourself, you're great at watching kids.  It's all she could talk about that they wanted her to come back next year and work w/ the same age category.  I think it's awesome as she gained much, much needed self -confidence and self-esteem.

The new kids got to know other kids and are more than eager to learn sign.  They WANT to communicate.  A few months ago in Bulgaria, they were refusing to learn.  Remember, disabilities are thought of very differently over there.  The new kids learned acceptance that weekend.  A great life lesson.

Then we have Yana.  Next year, Yana is going to sign up for the cue classes they offer.  I think it is wonderful she'll learn how to cue. I could not do it.  Warren could.  I was a horrible student at cuing.  But having someone in the house that can cue would be great. 

It's a camp where everyone comes away learning something. I think it is absolutely wonderful. I would lOVE, LOVE to put something like this together for FASers.  I would.  Have speakers come in, kids enjoy things, etc.  If you ever get a chance to attend a cued speech camp, please do.  They have them in VA as well I know. I just know the one in NC rocks!  The people are awesome, awesome, awesome.  The camp staff is incredible.  The lessons learned are lifelong.  The view is spectacular as well.  So, we will continue to go as long as they'll have us.  We'll continue to learn and enjoy this May weekend every year.  I do hope some of you get to join us next year.  This year, there were 19 new families!  252 people.  Max is 280 we're allowed to have.  I think we need to get the remaining 28 to come next  year.  We love Camp Cheerio.  Plain and simple.  Thanks to all who make it possible.  It does change lives whether they realize it or not.


  1. I'll have to try and get my family to go. I grew up with cued speech :) I think it has helped me to be a good lipreader. Are you guys going to the Bulgarian reunion in 2 weeks? If so, I'd love to meet you and ask you more questions in person :)

  2. sometimes I suck at cues LOL!!!!!!! but hey, I rely on lipreading more though.