Spring Camp Cheerio

by Courtney Branscome, Camp Co-Director spring-camp-cheerio-branscome-2013 We proudly celebrated Spring Camp Cheerio’s 29th year in May. Camp Cheerio is located in the northwestern corner of the North Carolina mountains in a small town called Roaring Gap, and has breathtaking views of the valley – the site of Spring Camp Cheerio – AG Bell and Cued Speech. It’s a place to escape modern technology, as cell phone service is very limited; to escape the hamster wheel of working life; meet other individuals, including families and professionals interested in learning strategies for spoken language; and share experiences as they relate to hearing impairment.

“It is a place where I feel like I belong,” says Emily Addison, 17, a native cuer who is starting her junior year of high school at Weddington High School in North Carolina. “I love how I can easily switch between Cued Speech and sign language in order to be able to communicate with everyone.”

This year’s camp accommodated more than 200 attendees from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon. All weekend, adults attended workshops and various presentations while the children participated in age-appropriate classes led by deaf adult cuers. Evening festivities included a dance, ice cream social, water slide, and social outings.

Betsy Kipila, a certified instructor of Cued Speech and past Coordinator of the former Cued Speech Office at Gallaudet University, taught the adult beginner Cued Speech class. Of her experience, Kipila said, “I had an awesome time [and was] glad to be back after a few years away. Had the best beginner class one could ever hope for,” Kipila said. “[The students] rocked!”

Beverly Elwell, co-director of Spring Camp Cheerio, also gave a glowing review of the quality of workshops offered and is delighted to see the same families come back year after year. “The biggest thrill is watching the kids grow up. It thrills me when I happen to see some kids during the year and they tell me that they can’t wait for Spring Camp Cheerio. Even their brothers and sisters say that! Spring Camp Cheerio is truly a wonderful experience for everyone.”

Nicole Frye, a teacher of the deaf, attended Spring Camp Cheerio for the first time this year. She said that “the best part was meeting such a warm, inclusive, open-minded group!”

Robert and Kristy Burke’s family of four has attended Spring Camp Cheerio for a number of years, and attended this year after having skipped it the last two years. They had begun to believe that their son, Alex, 13, outgrew the need for attending a camp with other deaf peers. This year, they felt differently.

“We realized just before the 2013 Spring Camp [Cheerio] event that you never really outgrow the need for the time spent with friends and family, both enjoying and learning, so we signed up at the last minute,” Robert said. “It was well worth it.”

Next year marks the 30-year anniversary of Spring “Cue” Camp Cheerio and the Spring Camp Committee is planning special events to celebrate.

Note: The Spring Camp Committee is looking for photos from past Spring Camp Cheerio events for our anniversary slideshow and presentation. If you have any photos, please submit them to Courtney Branscome at courtney.branscome@gmail.com.

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