This was written by intervenor Kaitlyn Mitchell who visited Camp Manitou in Winnipeg with Allison from May 16 to May 19
Over a year prior to Allison leaving for camp, she sat down with her intervenor coordinator (IC) Rujuta. Allison was very excited to hear that she could have the opportunity to take a plane for a 4 day holiday to camp and spend 1 to 1 time with an intervenor of her choosing. In November Allison and Rujuta sat down and discussed all the activities she could do at camp and all the extra details. Allison completed her Big Save for 23 weeks in order to save up for the cost of her and her intervenor, the cost of camp as well as extra spending money. Allison was also given a list of different intervenors who wanted to attend camp with her and she chose IV Kaitlyn to go with her. During the months and closing weeks leading up to camp Allison was becoming visibly more and more excited as she prepare to go on her “4 day holiday”.
From the moment IV Kaitlyn arrived at the program at 4am on May 16th Allison had the biggest smile on her face and her excitement only increased every day she was in Winnipeg. She was introduced to over 70 new deafblind consumers and intervenors from all over Canada and the USA. She did an amazing job at communicating in a variety of different ways from American Sign Language (ASL), Signed Exact English (SEE), and two hand manual sign. Kaitlyn would help Allison when she was communicating using 2 hand manual by fingerspelling each individual letter to her that way she could spell it out in the other consumers hand. Over the course of the 4 days Allison became much more confident in her expressive sign when communicating with people other than Kaitlyn.
Allison had the chance to take part in many fun activities during her 4 days in Winnipeg. When asked what her favourite activity was said the “long walks”. Every day, sometimes multiple times a day Kaitlyn and Allison went on long hikes in the forest the camp was located in. The first few times during the hikes we visited other activities such as archery, rock climbing and zip lining in order to prove Allison with the anticipation for some of the activities in the coming day. As Allison and Kaitlyn walked the trails they stopped to look at the water, take pictures and would skip along to the music that Kaitlyn was playing. Another one of Allison’s favourite activities was archery. Allison was laughing and smiling the entire time and eventually worked her way up to shooting the arrows independently. At first, hand over hand was used to show her the motions of how to set the arrow up on the bow and how to shoot the arrow to the target. After her first few tries she asked to do it independently and was able to hit the target! Allison also got to make a craft where she created a butterfly in a jar. Allison independently picked out all her supplies and constructed the craft completely independently. This was one of the first things Allison showed all of her intervenors when she arrived back to Paris on the 19th. On day 2 of camp, Allison and Kaitlyn got to visit the local zoo where Allison got to take part in an animal encounter. As Allison would describe it, she was “scared” and chose to look from a far when a tarantula and boa constrictor were pulled from their boxes. While there, Allison also got to look at different animals like a peacock, stingrays, pigs, donkeys, seals, monkeys, toucans and many more. The organizers of the camp had also rented out a hot tub and sauna for the week while the campers were visiting. Allison went into both on 2 separate nights and she enjoyed it so much she didn’t want to leave! This was a great opportunity for Allison to bond with other campers in a closer setting and this is where she met her closest friends at camp. One other activity that Allison took part in was tactile Bingo. Kaitlyn would finger spell a word to Allison and then Allison would put a blind fold on and would use her hands to feel around the Bingo card to look for the item that was spelt out to her. Once she found it she would place an egg carton on it in order to try and create a line. In the end, Allison chose to not take part in Zip lining and rock climbing but she enjoyed sitting and talking to other campers as she watched her new friends do those activities. On our final day Allison also got the chance to learn how to make Bannock on the camp fire and says she would like to make it again in the future.
Allison’s SMART goal is to work on her communication and this was a great addition to the activities that are already being done to complete this goal. It was very exciting to see the differences between day 1 and day 4 in regards to Allison’s confidence when speaking to other people and using expressive communication. She made very strong bond with 8 different campers and would sign often that she was “bugging them”. On the last day Allison and her new friends played a large game of UNO. This was a fun activity for her and she was laughing and smiling and calling her friends “cheaters” when they would hand her a pick up card.
This camp was a great opportunity for Allison to break away from the day to day structured life back in Paris and get to go with the flow of fun activities for 4 days. She got to sleep in a little bit longer and stay up later than normal because she was very busy with all her activities during the day. Every time Kaitlyn asked Allison if she was having fun she would sign “yes”. When asked if she wants to go back to camp next year she said “yes, for 1 week”. On her last day, she said goodbye and gave hugs to all of her new friends and said that she would “see them next year”.
As part of Allison’s SMART goal, Allison and Kaitlyn will be using all of the photos taking on their 4 day holiday to make an experience book that she can show all of her friends and family to describe her experience there. Now that she has gone, she is very excited to get to go again and will start working with her IC soon to start preparing for next year!