Monday, March 7, 2016

Why Choose Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp?

Welcome to Week 10 of winter term, everyone!  By now, those of you who are juniors or seniors may be thinking about your senior capstone.  Those of you in the Department of Special Education may be looking for a practicum.  So why choose Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp?

Here at MHKC we could write for pages about the benefits of camp, but we think the counselors and staff in the video below, titled "Why Choose MHKC," say it best. 

(For the perspectives of more counselors who have already completed the capstone, feel free to browse our "Letters to Future Counselors" tag.)

Download an application here (PDF), and join us this summer at Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp. 

Without further ado, please enjoy the video.  For deaf or hard of hearing readers, or those who prefer text, a transcript of the spoken words in the video is provided below.


Rory Shipman, Capstone Student:  Camp has been awesome.  It's been really…I don't know, it's just a very very happy place for me.

Emily Derr, Capstone Student:  I think coming to camp is a safe haven, and signing up for this and going through all the experiences we learn that it's a safe haven for the campers, but I think a big thing too is it's a safe haven for the counselors.

Cheyne Corrado, Capstone Student:  Seeing the smile on one of our camper's faces today, you just know that they're having the time of their life.  And it's, like, literally brings tears to my eyes because it's just they don't get to do this often.  And it's like, it's why we're all up here.

Haakon Weinstein, Capstone Student:  It's—it's scary, and it's fun, and it's exciting, and it's exhausting.  It's like, all encompassing.

Kasey Larsen, SPED Masters Student:  You get to see people kind of grow.  Their characters get expanded.  Their—little parts of them start to come out.

Dave Bahr, Counselor Supervisor - MHKC Staff:  It allows me to see what I wish the rest of the world would be like as far as inclusion and acceptance and tolerance and, uh, promotion for everybody.

Narrator:  Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp is a camp for children and adults with disabilities.  Each summer, over 200 PSU students complete their capstone project or elective course by working as camp counselors, supporting their campers as they enjoy many outdoor recreational activities and build lasting friendships.

Shipman:  I think within my first 24 hours of being here, I was just walking around, I hadn't even met my first camper yet, I didn't even know who I was going to be hanging out with for the first week, and it just kind of dawned on me that this place is really special and it just…it needs to continue, forever.  Like, Mt.—this, this place just needs to be here for a very long time.

Derr:  I think the highlights of the past week-and-a-half is just working with all these different adults with different abilities, and kind of learning from them.  This week I have learned from them what kindness truly means, what love truly means, what friendship truly is.  Coming in, we kind of all help each other out, and my group, E, with Dave, we kind of just formed this one big group bond as a family.

Shipman:  There is a huge amount of support here.  Everybody here is here to help you, your CS's, your ACS's, the directors…everybody here wants to see you succeed.

Weinstein:  We get to take people canoeing or zip lining or swimming.  It's like, it's stuff that you'd want to do at camp but you're helping facilitate this for someone that may not otherwise have an opportunity to do it on their own.

Derr:  Adventure course, they team up, they're super high-energy, they kind of get them involved a little bit more.  I think there they face their fears, and I think it's a time for us as counselors to kind of motivate them and push them, and that's where the group bond kind of comes in, to try and encourage them to do something that they would never do at camp and only get to do at camp.

Narrator:  Campers aren't the only ones pushing their boundaries.  Counselors learn new skills while bending old perceptions.  Laughter, encouragement, and team-building lead to unexpected growth, and getting silly is also a hallmark of Camp Kiwanis.

Larsen:  You've got to be willing to just be silly, look ridiculous, you don't know how to dance just shake it, shimmer it, just do anything that you need to do.

Shipman:  You can be silly, and nobody, like, is going to think you're weird.  Um, like, I wore a tutu to one of the dances, and that was funny, and everybody liked it, and I don't dance, like I'm just not a person that dances, but I danced every single day at camp.  [Laughs.]

Weinstein:  The camp songs are really fun, uh, although they're probably going to be stuck in my head for a couple weeks after I'm out of here.

Campers and counselors, singing: Some sticky sticky waffles.

Song leader, singing: A mozzarella pizza.

Campers and counselors, singing: A mozzarella pizza.

Derr:  Coming in I didn't realize how much that I was going to learn from this experience.

Larsen:  This has really helped build some skills that I need heading into my career.  You—you want to know who you are when you come out of this; it's the person you want to be.  You can, you're, within this society of camp, you wanna be somebody who contributes to here.  And then when you step out of camp, you wanna be someone who's contributing to society.  And this is a great way to know who you're going to be as that person outside the bigger picture, outside this camp.

Weinstein:  It's been really fun learning how to, um, interact and be, um, encouraging, motivating.  You learn a handful of skills when you get up here in the training, and then to see them in action, and then you feel like you had a part in a camper's great experience while they're, you know, pushing themselves beyond their, uh, perceived limits.  It's really fun.

Corrado:  Dealing with certain campers that, um, are maybe nonverbal, or just have different ways of expressing communication and emotions, and then seeing them express, like, happiness and joy in an activity that maybe you would think that they wouldn't be able to do, is like the most rewarding piece of it.

Larsen:  Being able to communicate…how does that, how does that camper communicate, and how can I communicate with them, whether that be picture schedules, whether that be prompting, whether that be just, um, just modeling for the, for the camper, and so it's really just…each camper's different.  They all have their own personality, they all have different ways in which they learn and experience things, and so you really just have to mold yourself to each person.

Bahr:  Camp is an opportunity for everybody—campers and counselors and staff—to grow, and I think we are all kind of in this journey of, of growing together, and this is an experience for that, uh, to happen.  Camp is really just a vehicle for that self exploration and that self discovery, uh, which is really neat, um, to see and be a part of, and I think it's a really valuable experience for everybody to leave with.

Shipman:  I think that Mt. Hood is just going to, like, always have a special place in my heart.

Corrado:  Once I got here, it was the best decision ever.

Weinstein:  I think one of the biggest things that I've learned here is, like, to not judge.

Corrado:  The nerves are okay, and once you get here, you will be in awesome hands.

Shipman: Just don't be afraid to ask for help, don't be afraid to ask questions.

Bahr:  My biggest piece of advice is probably just to come with an open mind and a willingness to do whatever it takes to push yourself.  Um, you're going to find that your capabilities go beyond what you thought your limits were.  And you, what you put into it is definitely what you get out of it.  And it's, um, so, um, it's going to be some hard work but it's going to be very well worth it and very rewarding in the end.

Weinstein:  I would suggest this capstone to anybody that's interested in having, whether this be there intention or not, a life changing experience.  I don't care if you're a Business student, or a Psych student, or Anthropology, or Nursing—Nursing would be really helpful—um, or Accounting, whatever, like, this, this experience will change your life, and it'll make you feel good, then it'll give you a new perspective.  So, highly recommend it to anybody.

Counselors and Campers: Go Group E!  Woo!

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