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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Camp Shout Out in Muskegon - Building Communicators for Life

It's been alleged that once I figured out how to talk, I have not shut up for a second since.  Of course, that's the opinion of some and has not been proven by any scientific means in any way.  All kidding aside, communicating is the heart of everything I have ever done.  All the way back to my younger days, if I wasn't talking to someone, I was passing notes in school and working on keeping communication channels open to anyone.  For both my sanity and theirs.  To be able to talk is vital.

There are some however who struggle to communicate.  Maybe they are just the quiet type, possibly they are the "strong silent type" or maybe they are the type that just sit and watch our world in amazement and have nothing to say.  There are those too who want to talk, but for some reason, when they do, their words fail them.  They come out broken....they come out staggered...they come out with hesitation and confusion and for both parties, it seems very difficult to manage.  I am talking about stuttering and if you've ever been around a person who struggles with it, you know that it seems like an almost insurmountable barrier for them to try and be a part of any conversation.

Visit the Chmela Fluency Center Online
Stuttering seems to come from a multitude of factors and has layers upon layers of contributing factors according to Kristin Chmela who runs the Chmela Fluency Center in Bufflao Grove Illinois, she is also one of the key members of Camp Shout Out.  Coming from a background in stuttering herself, she dedicated her life to providing services to those with fluency disorders.  With her specialty, she is often sought out by people from around the country to help with their kids who are struggling to speak.

Which brings us to our local tie in....Julie Raynor.  Julie is a local speech pathologist who put her daughter down for a nap one day, and when she woke up from it, there was a severe stuttering disorder.  Imagine that?  Your job is to help other kids and parents with their issues and all of the sudden it's your's to address too.  A daunting task, but as we've seen time and time again, there is no greater force to fix something than a mother who is looking out for her child.  Thus, the meeting of Julie and Kristin.

As the relationship grew so did the desire to help others.  A conference in Cincinnati, a visit to Reeths-Puffer Schools and some discussions about a camping experience led to the "what if" moment of "what if" there was a camp dedicated to people who share this disorder and "what if" top notch speech pathologists, support staff, therapists, consultants, apprentices and seminars could all happen in one spot where the campers could see they are not alone in their struggle and the families too could see that there is strength in numbers.  Thus was born Camp Shout Out.

Located on Big Blue Lake in Holton Michigan.  Camp Shout Out brings in campers from all over the world to enjoy a week away from the judgement that so many have to deal with.  It offers a little respite from the real world and gives people a little access to some services in a setting that's not so clinical.  Let's be honest, where do you feel more comfortable....at a campfire or in a clinic?  It not only gives the campers and families a unique experience, it gives those in the field a chance to learn and grow and those wishing to join the profession a chance to be around some of the top professionals who practice day after day. 

I had a chance to catch up with Kristin and Julie.  We met up at a very picturesque spot Downtown Muskegon to learn more about Camp Shout Out.  Take a listen to our chat below.

A great conversation and an amazing thing happening right in our back yard!  Did you ever imagine that such incredible things were happening right here...and from here...they carry all over the world.  Everything about this story is amazing.  From the woman who wanted to learn more to help herself, to the mom who wanted more for her daughter and how it grew to be an outreach to so many...for so many different purposes, Camp Shout Out is an inspiration to all and an incredible asset to our area and to know too, we made another fan out of Kristin....from Chicago....shows me we're winning.  :)  

If you'd like to know more about Camp Shout Out or, you'd like to maybe help the cause out a little, you can click on the photo below and link over to the camp website.  Also, there was a film crew there in 2017....could we have a world class documentary on the way?  

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