While most summer camps provide for the basic activities like swimming, horseback riding and archery, the campers at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders‘ week-long Cochlear Implant Camp are more high-tech oriented.
Taking place from Monday, July 24, through Friday, July 27, at Cross Creek Ranch in Parker County, the camp hosts youngsters who take part in a variety of activities that are oriented to their cochlear implants.
Despite the blistering 100-degree heat, the Callier Center Foundation Board of Trustees members like Beth Thoele, John Stuart, Sara Martineau and Bennett Cullum arrived on Wednesday to get an eye- and ear-full. MIA was Board President Tricia George, who had an excuse from her doctor. She was recovering from knee surgery.
But the campers — thanks to the counselors like Jared Zanny and UT Dallas Office of Development and Alumni Relations interns Songar Ideus, Ridwan Giwa and Veronika Vakser — could have cared less about the heat. They were happily among their own kind. Despite having hearing challenges, their implants had opened a new world to them. Here they could share their experiences and questions with fellow campers and counselors.
Sure there were rock-wall climbing, fishing in the pond and challenging games in the field, but thanks to the counselors there were plenty of activities — mask making, creating personalized silly putty, cookie frosting, etc. — in the main house and the covered party porch when the afternoon heat ramped up.
While the kids busied themselves, a handful of them spied a man erecting and hosing down the slipper-slide bounce house. It would be the day’s grand finale in which the kids would take off their implants and get wet and wild.
Observing all the antics were Delta Zeta sorority sisters Amy Gamble and Fernanda Barrientos, who had been part of the effort to raises funds for the Shreena Bhakta Camper Scholarship Fund. It was to honor their late sister DZ/ University of Texas at Dallas classmate Shreena Bhakta, who had been completely deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. Following her death in January, they held a fundraiser in February “to start a scholarship in Bhakta’s name to send a child to the Callier Center for Communication Disorders’ summer camp.”
Seeing the kids made their efforts seem all the more worthwhile. After all, these campers were at Cochlear Implant Camp to play, learn and listen.