DO-IT Campers Learn to Surf

Deb Cronheim, research coordinator

"Fun!" "Cool!" "Like a roller coaster!" "Great!"

What's the subject of all this praise? Summer camps, kids, and computers. Last summer, camps for kids with disabilities in Washington, Colorado, and Minnesota partnered with DO-IT to add computing, Internetworking and college/career prep to their list of activities. Over 400 campers at Camp Easter Seal West, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Northwest Burn Foundation, Camp Lots of Fun, and Funshine Day Camp in Washington state learned how to use computers, send email, explore the Internet, and play an online game or two. DO-IT staff visited several other camps to chat with campers about how to prepare for college and employment and how computer technology can play an important role in these pursuits. All campers of middle or high school age were encouraged to join the DO-IT Pals program, an electronic discussion group for students with disabilities who want to get a head start on preparing for college, work, and the transition to adulthood.

For the fourth year in a row, DO-IT director Sheryl Burgstahler traveled to Camp Courage in Minnesota with Ambassador Kris to offer an intensive computing and college preparation curriculum to eighteen campers. Advanced (returning) campers learned to write HTML and developed an interactive Web page with input from the other campers. Courage campers also got a realistic feel for college life by touring nearby St. Cloud University, roleplaying interactions with college faculty, and listening to the advice and experiences of successful college students with disabilities during panel presentations. Campers interacted with DO-IT Scholars, Ambassadors, Mentors, and staff via email.

Kris traveled to the Rocky Mountain Village Easter Seal Camp in Colorado where he engaged 50 campers in discussions about college preparation, work-based learning, and adaptive technology for computers. He also delivered a short Internet session for a small group of campers.

Next year, DO-IT will be expanding the Campers program within Washington state, and nationally. If you know of camps that serve students with disabilities and who would like to incorporate Internet and/or college or work preparation into their programs, contact the DO-IT office.