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June 19, 2005

Family Camp for Deaf Children

From: Kansas City infoZine - Kansas City,MO,USA - Jun 19, 2005

By Jim Low - Deaf campers can enjoy a weekend of outdoor fun with their families.

Osceola, Mo. - infoZine - -The Family Outdoor Skills Camp for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, now in its fourth year, is taking applications for its annual event Aug. 13 and 14 at the H. Roe Bartle Boy Scout Camp near Osceola. It's a great opportunity to expand outdoor horizons in a supportive atmosphere.

Conservation Agent Dennis Garrison organizes the event for the Missouri Department of Conservation. It drew 67 participants in 2002, 100 in 2003 and 188 last year. This year, attendance will be capped at 200 to keep logistics manageable.

The two-day camp enables families with deaf or hard-of-hearing children to participate in outdoor recreational activities and learn the basics of diverse outdoors skills. Garrison said the camp is a great learning experience for participants and its instructors. Garrison's inspiration for the event came from his day-to-day work.

"Over the years I have met quite a few deaf people in the outdoors," said Garrison. "It made me aware that opportunities for deaf children to learn about hunting, fishing, canoeing and so on are limited. I decided it would be a good thing for the Conservation Department to make more opportunities available."

Garrison recruited the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton to help. The school provides interpreters who facilitate communication between camp participants and the Conservation Department employees who provide skills training.

Agent Garrison felt it was important to make the camp a family event, because many deaf children attend residential schools away from their families. "I thought it was important for them to be able to spend time with their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters in the summertime," said Garrison. "This is a place where they can do that."

Campers and their families learn canoeing, fishing and trap shooting. One of the highlights of the weekend is scaling a 40-foot climbing wall. The United Bowhunters of Missouri and the Compton Traditional Bowhunters will conduct archery training.

For more information, or to register, contact Tisha Holden, 573/346-2210, ext. 222, or Pat Roam, 573/346-2210, ext. 221.

The event, including lodging, meals and supplies, is free, thanks to support from sponsors, including the Missouri Conservation Agents Association, the Boy Scouts of America, Wal-Mart, the Warsaw Shrine Club, Coral Reef Seafood, Buzz's Market and the Toad Suck Grill.