2017 UTHSC Volunteer Your Voice Camp Makes Learning Fun

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The annual Volunteer Your Voice Summer Camp provides a fun way for children to develop their communication skills. Campers and counselors pose for a group photo.

Tyler Brandt-Ogle had a blast at summer camp, and learned a lot, too.

The 11-year-old from Kodak, Tennessee, went to the Volunteer Your Voice Summer Camp in Knoxville, a one-week camp for children ages 8 to 15 with speech, language, and hearing impairments.

The program gives the participants a traditional camp experience, while helping them work on their speech and language skills. It is put on by the Hearing and Speech Center, part of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, which is located on the UT-Knoxville campus.

Camper Tyler Brandt-Ogle, facing, pronounced the camp, “awesome.”

“This was my first time at the Volunteer Your Voice Camp,” said Tyler, a 7th grader who is adjusting to new hearing aids. “It was awesome! I learned that salamanders have a head like a snake. I also learned to ask a person to speak louder, if I can’t hear them.”

The camp took place in early June. The first two days were at the Hearing and Speech Center on the campus. A three-day, two-night stay at the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont followed.

While on the UT campus, the children had the opportunity to tour the athletic facilities, and to interview pet handlers from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine’s HABIT (Human Animal Bond in Tennessee) program and play with their dogs.

At Tremont, campers slept in tents, went hiking, waded in the water, ate meals together, sang songs, and roasted S’mores over a campfire, all while working on their speech and language goals.

Four faculty members, eight graduate students, and 14 campers joined in the adventure.

Campers also exercised their speech and language skills by interviewing each other, researching and writing presentations, speaking in front of an audience, and conducting interviews with a reporter from the local news station.

“It was fun to be on the news, and be with my new friend, Hunter,” Tyler said.

His mom, Kodi Ogle, said she is pleased he had a good time, and glad to see the camp helped her son meet some goals. “Since Tyler has returned, we have noticed that he is paying attention more,” she said. “He takes the time to ask someone to repeat what is said. We asked that his goals include self-advocacy skills. These are the same goals we had been working on all school year, to no avail. After the five-day camp, he has mastered these goals. We are thankful for the opportunity to attend this camp. It has been a blessing.”