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July 5, 2005

Shocco camp provides deaf with more than just a good time

From: Daily Home Online - Talladega,AL,USA - Jul 5, 2005

By Evan Casey

Another successful year of Camp Shocco for the Deaf concluded Saturday, sending some 50 campers back home after a week's worth of fellowship, worship and lasting memories with friends new and old. Campers from 9 to 20 years old come from Talladega and across the state, from Florida, Georgia and as far as North Carolina to the annual camp that first began in 1992.

"Some kids come from isolated towns where they don't get a lot of interaction with other deaf kids," said the Rev. Ricky Milford, camp director.

"Some of them don't have a lot of deaf friends and they get to meet them here, and this provides them the chance to come together and learn about each other and the Bible through fellowship," he said.

"Shocco Idol," this year's theme, helped show participants the importance of positive attitudes and giving positive praise while increasing self-esteem and helping enhance their social skills.

Campers congregated at the Adventure Camp to participate in dramas, skits and presentations. And all were judged by, whom else — Simon, Paula and Randy, or their impersonators, from the popular "American Idol" TV show.

During their week-long stay, campers learn the meaning of teamwork, as well as get the chance to develop their own unique talents that often go unseen outside the camp environment.

"We have so many students come, and some of them are mainstream students (who attend public school). They come here once a year for this, which helps them establish spiritual, social, mental development on biblical foundations," said the Rev. Chris McGaha, assistant director and chaplain at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. "Most of the teens have grown up here. It's the place to be in the summer."

Leading up to the "Shocco Idol" finale on Friday night and Saturday, campers also had leisure time to boat, swim, play games and enjoy their recreation time together.

The camp has meant so much to 11-year-old Heather Turner from Buford, Ga., she said she has returned faithfully to Camp Shocco for the Deaf for the past five years.

"I like it here because I get to meet more new friends and see all of my old friends and we get to learn about the Gospel," she said. "My parents are deaf and were councilors for Ricky, so that's how I fell in love with this place."

About Evan Casey
Evan Casey is a staff writer for The Daily Home.

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